HYNES V. MAYOR OF ORADELL, 425 U. S. 610 (1976)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Hynes v. Mayor of Oradell, 425 U.S. 610 (1976)

Hynes v. Mayor of Oradell

No. 74-1329

Argued December 10, 1975

Decided May 19, 1976

425 U.S. 610


A municipal ordinance requiring that advance written notice be given to the local police department by

"[a]ny person [including representatives of Borough Civic Groups and Organizations] desiring to canvass, solicit or call from house to house . . . for a recognized charitable cause, or . . . for a Federal, State, County or Municipal political campaign or cause . . . for identification only"

held invalid because of vagueness. A municipality has the power to enforce reasonable door-to-door soliciting and canvassing regulations to protect its citizens from crime and undue annoyance. The Court has consistently recognized that a narrowly drawn ordinance that does not vest in municipal officials the undefined power to determine what residents will hear or see may serve these interests consistent with the First Amendment. The ordinance in question must fall, however, because, in certain respects, "men of common intelligence must necessarily guess at its meaning." Connally v. General Constr. Co., 269 U. S. 385, 269 U. S. 391. First, the ordinance's coverage is unclear, since it does not explain whether a "recognized charitable cause" means one recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as tax exempt, one recognized by some community agency, or one approved by some municipal official; nor is it clear what is meant by a "Federal, State, County or Municipal . . . cause," or what groups fall into the class of "Borough Civic Groups and Organizations" that the ordinance covers. Secondly, the ordinance does not sufficiently specify what those within its reach must do in order to comply. Not only is a person desiring to solicit not told what he must set forth in the required notice or what the police will consider sufficient identification, but also the ordinance does not provide explicit standards for those who apply it. Pp. 425 U. S. 616-622.

66 N.J. 376, 331 A.2d 277, reversed and remanded.

BURGER, C.J.,delivered the opinion of the Court, in which STEWART, WHITE, BLACKMUN, and POWELL, JJ., joined and in Part 3 of which BRENNAN, J., joined. BRENNAN, J., filed an opinion concurring

Page 425 U. S. 611

in part, in which MARSHALL, J., joined, post, p. 425 U. S. 623. REHNQUIST, J., filed a dissenting opinion, post, p. 425 U. S. 630. STEVENS, J., took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.

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