Ordinance curbs solicitation

[Note: though this item does not refer to Jehovah’s Witnesses by name, this ordinance was passed in response to a ruling regarding that religious cult.

Tribune-Review, Aug. 15, 2002
By Stanley J. Mikolajek

Ross residents will not have to put up with door-to-door solicitors if they sign up for a new privacy program.

A new township ordinance allows residents to register with the township for protection from solicitors.

Officials in many municipalities have been reviewing their laws on door-to-door solicitation after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down an Ohio ordinance in June.

The court ruled that municipalities cannot require religious groups, political activists or any door-to-door advocacy group to obtain a permit for soliciting.

Ross Solicitor Donald Gates said the township’s new ordinance, approved Monday, is a reaction to the Supreme Court ruling. Its previous ordinance basically was the same as the Ohio law that was declared unconstitutional, he said, although township officials had not enforced the ordinance against religious groups because he feared it might not hold up in court.

The new ordinance still requires nonprofit groups or people selling items for businesses to get a permit, he said. Representatives of religious, political and other advocacy groups do not have to get the permit.

Gates said residents who register for the township’s do-not-solicit list will receive a sticker to be displayed at their homes.

“If solicitors knowingly go to residences which are on the township’s list, under the law, they can technically be charged with defiant trespassing,” Gates said.

People selling things door to door, even those raising money for nonprofit groups, are required to review the registry list and respect the stickers. The township cannot require people representing religious, political or other advocacy groups from reviewing the registry list, but those people must respect the stickers and are not allowed to approach homes displaying them, Gates said.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Thursday August 15, 2002.
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