Wednesday, February 18, 2015

City's Solicitiation Ordinance Held Too Restrictive

In United States Mission Corp. v. City of Mercer Island, (WD WA, Feb. 10, 2015), a Washington federal district court granted a preliminary injunction against enforcement of a Seattle suburb's solicitation ordinance in a suit by a Christian religious organization.  The Mission operates residential facilities for the homeless, and requires its residents to engage in door-to-door religious solicitation on its behalf. The challenged ordinance bars door-to-door solicitations (but not proselytizing without soliciting funds) after 7:00 p.m.  The Mission engages in residential solicitations between 5:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. on weekdays. The court held that prior cases "have continuously found that curfews prior to 9:00 p.m. are not sufficiently connected to a municipality's interest in crime prevention" to meet the compelling interest- least restrictive means requirement for content-based regulation of speech.

According to the Mercer Island Reporter, City Council will meet on Feb. 23 to amend the solicitation ordinance to comply with the court's holding.