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ACLU Settles Challenge to Political Canvassing Restrictions in Johnston

Posted: April 15, 2005|Category: Free Speech

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The ACLU of Rhode Island today announced the favorable settlement of a federal lawsuit it filed last year on behalf of the environmental group Clean Water Action (CWA), challenging a Johnston Town Council directive barring the group from engaging in political door-to-door canvassing between 7 and 9 PM. The lawsuit, filed by ACLU volunteer attorney Carolyn Mannis, successfully argued that the restriction violated the group’s First Amendment rights.

The lawsuit had noted that door-to-door canvassing was a “vital part” of the organization’s program, and an effective way for CWA to disseminate information about its activities, obtain signatures on petitions and solicit donations to fund its work. The hours of 4 to 9 PM are the organization’s standard canvassing hours in every community, and the canvassers find that they achieve the best response between 6 and 9 PM.

Mannis said today: “I am pleased that the ACLU was able to obtain appropriate relief from the Town for its violation of Clean Water Action’s First Amendment rights.” Sheila Dormody, CWA’s executive director, added: “We believe that residents of Johnston support the good work Clean Water Action has done in the community for the past thirteen years and we look forward to continuing our work with them.”

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