Canvassing against Prop A

Canvassing against Prop A

While canvassing against Prop A, one of the Unions which we represent was told by a police officer that the union’s activity violated the municipality’s “no solicitation” ordinance, and would have to cease.  We immediately contacted the City Attorney to point out that: 1) the municipal ordinance did not cover the union’s activities, because it defined “solicitation” in a manner which required either a request for money or a sale of goods, neither of which applied to the anti-Prop A canvass, and 2) regardless of the language of the ordinance, canvassing is protected by the First Amendment, and courts have held in regard to door-to-door appeals concerning religion or public issues that a city cannot require a permit or registration with the police department.  Watchtower Bible & Trust Society of New York, Inc. v. Village of Stratton, 536 U.S. 150 (2002), Service Employees Local 3 v. Municipality of Mt. Lebanon, 446 F.3d 419 (3rd Cir. 2006).  The municipality in question immediately issued a memo to its police officers explaining that the union’s canvassing was lawful.

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