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Posted 22 Oct 2001   For week ended October 19, 2001
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Sent on Mormon-News: 19Oct01

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


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