Supreme Court Votes Down Town’s Canvassing Law

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(Host) The U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that the Constitution protects the right of missionaries, politicians and others to knock on doors without first getting permission from local authorities. The vote was 8-1, with Chief Justice William Rehnquist the only dissenter, mentioning killing of two Dartmouth College professors by two Vermont teenagers, who had cased their neighborhood by going door-to-door.

In supporting a law in a small Ohio town that restricted such canvassing by Jehovah’s Witnesses, Rehnquist wrote that it did not unduly limit free speech. Writing for the majority, Justice John Paul Stevens said the law is offensive to the values of free speech and a free society.

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