Friday, November 15, 2013

Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of New York, Inc. v. Village of Stratton case brief

Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of New York, Inc. v. Village of Stratton case brief summary
536 U.S. 150 (2002)

Petitioner religious organizations sued respondents, village and mayor, alleging that the village's ordinance requiring a permit for door-to-door solicitation violated constitutional rights, including the free exercise of religion, free speech, and the freedom of the press. The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit found the ordinance to be constitutional. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Sections of the village's ordinance prohibited "canvassers" from going on private property for the purpose of explaining or promoting any "cause," unless they received a permit and the residents visited had not opted for a "no solicitation" sign. The ordinance provisions applied to a significant number of noncommercial canvassers promoting a wide variety of causes, including religious and political activity.

  • The Court determined that the ordinance, requiring one to obtain a permit prior to engaging in the door-to-door advocacy of a political cause and to display upon demand the permit, which contained one's name, violated the First Amendment protection accorded to anonymous pamphleteering or discourse. 
  • The breadth and unprecedented nature of the ordinance, along with the failure to tailor the ordinance to the village's stated interests, rendered the ordinance invalid. 
  • The village's interest in preventing fraud could not support the ordinance's application to the religious organizations, to political campaigns, or to enlisting support for unpopular causes.


The judgment of the appellate court was reversed, and the case was remanded.

No comments:

Post a Comment

The Ins and Outs of Class Action Lawsuits: A Comprehensive Guide

Sometimes, you may buy a product only to find it defective. To make it worse, your search for the product reveals mass complaints. You can ...