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Third Circuit overturns ordinance requiring canvassers to register with police

[JURIST] The US Third Circuit Court of Appeals Friday overturned [PDF opinion] a Pittsburgh municipality ordinance requiring canvassers to register with police before going door to door. The ACLU filed suit [complaint, PDF] on behalf of a local of the Service Employees International Union [union website] involved in a get-out-the-vote campaign for Democratic presidential candidate Senator John Kerry prior to the 2004 presidential election. The plaintiffs argued that requiring individuals and groups, including political activists, to notify police before calling on their fellow-citizens was an infringement on free speech. The municipality countered that the measure was appropriate to prevent fraud and crime.

A federal court judge upheld the ordinance [PDF memorandum opinion] in 2004, but the appeals court concluded Friday:

the challenged ordinance is not tailored to serve Mt. Lebanon’s legitimate interest in preventing crime and fraud. At the same time, that ordinance substantially burdens a broad range of speech which enjoys the highest level of First Amendment protection.
AP has more. The ACLU of Pennsylvania has additional case materials.

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