By Kent Larsen
U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Proselyting Registration Case
WASHINGTON, DC -- Can a town require that missionaries going
door-to-door have permits? The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Monday to
hear arguments on that issue in a case from Stratton, Ohio, which
passed an ordinance requiring those going door-to-door to register
with the village. But the Jehovah's Witnesses challenged the
ordinance, claiming it violated the U.S. Constitution.
The village ordinance requires that anyone going door-to-door,
including salesmen, politicians, boy scouts, and LDS missionaries,
get the mayor's permission and display a permit on a homeowner's
request. Permits are free (and no one has been denied a permit), but
they do require disclosure of the person's name, addresses for the
past five years and the address of the organization they represent.
The Jehovah's Witnesses sued the village over the ordinance, however,
arguing that if their members completed a permit request they would
lose the right to practice their religion anonymously. But a lower
court disagreed, and upheld the village ordinance's constitutionality.
However, the Supreme Court has now agreed to hear the appeal of the
Jehovah's Witnesses, but placed restrictions on the arguments. The
Justices only want to hear arguments on the First Amendment
ramifications of the ordinance.
Oral arguments in the case will probably be heard early next year,
and the court will likely rule on the issue next summer.
Permit Needed to Go Door-to-Door?
Salt Lake Tribune 16Oct01 N1
By Tribune Staff and News Services