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Pennsylvania town disagrees with free speech rights of Jehovah's Witnesses


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Pennsylvania town disagrees with free speech rights of Jehovah's Witnesses


By Chris Buckley, VALLEY INDEPENDENT | Full Article


SPEERS - Mayor Bill Lee said he is only concerned about keeping tabs on who is going through neighborhoods, especially in light of home invasions.

But solicitor Jack France said a U.S. Supreme Court ruling prevents the borough from requiring a permit for members of the Watchtower Society, a Jehovah's Witnesses organization, if they want to go door to door "expressing their faith."

The issue was discussed at Speers council's monthly meeting Wednesday.

"My job as mayor is to look out for the safety and welfare of all in the community," Lee said. "We're not denying them going door to door, but we want to know who is coming through our community."

But France said the court ruled that requiring a permit would violate free speech. Permits can only be required for those selling door to door, not giving opinion or information, France said, quoting the court decision.

"Even though we do not agree with it, we will abide by it," Lee said.

Read more: Speers seeks extension on DEP consent order - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

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Another benefit not being acknowledged is that our presence in the neighbourhoods actually discourages crime. Who wants a witness to their crime? I have read many times of Brothers or Sisters calling the Police to report a suspicious character in a territory they were working.

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