(AP) — A consumer advocacy group on Thursday sued two Indiana communities,
saying their restrictions on door-to-door canvassing are unconstitutional.
Action Coalition, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of
Indiana, sued Yorktown and Jeffersonville in U.S. District Court in New
Albany. Their lawsuits say both communities' licensing requirements
violate the First Amendment right of free speech.
in Jeffersonville, across the Ohio River from Louisville, Ky., requires
political and religious groups that go door to door raising funds or
distributing leaflets to obtain a license that can cost up to $500 per
individual for one year. The fee is $150 plus $50 per day per person in
Yorktown, located about 45 miles northeast of Indianapolis.
The rules set
other restrictions, including hours during which licensed canvassers can
operate and include exceptions for veterans, auctioneers and farmers
both communities told The Associated Press that they had not yet seen the
lawsuits and generally do not comment on pending litigation.
Citizens Action Coalition's executive director, said the
Indianapolis-based organization contacts local officials and provides
police with a list of canvassers before sending its representatives door
to door. Jeffersonville and Yorktown, Olson said, are bucking legal
established that door-to-door canvassing, whether for political or
religious reasons, is constitutional," Olson said in a phone interview.
Gavin Rose said the civil rights group has repeatedly represented
organizations whose right to go door to door was challenged, including the
Jehovah's Witnesses, who won a landmark Supreme Court decision in 2002.
federal appeals court last year upheld a Missouri town ordinance imposing
limits on protests at funerals that was passed in response to the
activities of the Westboro Baptist Church. Members of the Topeka, Kan.,
church frequently protest at funerals of soldiers, asserting the deaths
are God's punishment for American immorality and tolerance of
homosexuality and abortion.