Thursday, October 12, 2006

Canvasser? Protect Your Rights

From Virginia Progressive, Canvassers, know your rights…

… from the ACLU. You know, those people that protect the CONSTITUTION, even for the KLAN.

“The right of canvassers to enter onto private property to express their views is protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution,” the ACLU of Virginia’s Kent Willis wrote Tuesday in a letter to 185 police chiefs. “This right trumps any local anti-solicitation ordinance.”

The letter stems from a Sept. 23 confrontation between a Warrenton police officer and three volunteers from The Commonwealth Coalition, an organization that is campaigning against the proposed constitutional amendment that bans gay marriages and civil unions.

The officer told the volunteers they were in violation of Warrenton’s anti-solicitation ordinance and ordered them to leave the neighborhood, Willis said.

The ACLU maintains that political canvassing that doesn’t involve asking for contributions is not solicitation.

“The proper response of police officers to property owners who are merely irritated by the presence of canvassers in their neighborhood is to explain the rights of canvassers, not to demand that the canvassers leave the neighborhood,” Willis wrote in the letter.

Nate de la Piedra is the Online Outreach Coordinator for the Andrew Hurst for Congress 2006 Campaign. The ideas expressed herein belong to Nate de la Piedra and do not necessarily represent those of Andrew Hurst, his advisors, staff, or "The Campaign".


AndreaC said...

When I arrived to canvass for Andrew Hurst at Roosevelt High tonight, I passed Tom Davis electioneering inside the gates at the game. He was positioned in front of the main entrance and it was not possible to enter without passing his outstretched hand (although he saw my Hurst shirt and pin and we just nodded hellos). I found the Hurst supporters a little rattled outside the gates. Apparently they had just been yelled at for being within 100 feet of the gate.

I know when an election is going on at the school, there are rules about how far from the door the candidates and their supporters have to be. However, on a public space at a public event I was unaware of a space restriction. If there is a restriction, why did it not apply to Davis? Any ideas?

We honored the request to step away from the gate for this game, regardless.

Nate de la Piedra said...

Andrea, that is a mighty fine question indeed. I too have been asked to respect the 100 feet rule, at Robinson Secondary School as a matter of fact. Wonder why they let Tom stay.