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WASHN: doorstep proselytizing.

The Associated Press
6/17/02 10:38 AM

By a vote of 8-1, the court reasoned that the First Amendment right to free speech includes the entitlement to take a message or idea directly to someone's door, and that the right cannot be limited by a requirement to register by name ahead of time.

"The mere fact that the ordinance covers so much speech raises constitutional concerns," Justice John Paul Stevens wrote for himself and Justices Sandra Day O'Connor, Anthony M. Kennedy, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer.

"It is offensive, not only to the values protected by the First Amendment, but to the very notion of a free society, that in the context of everyday public discourse a citizen must first inform the government of her desire to speak to her neighbors and then obtain a permit to do so."

Two of the court's most conservative justices, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, agreed only with the outcome of the case and did not sign on to Stevens' reasoning.

Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist dissented.

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