City A is known for its extensive social services and progressive community. As a result, a number of nonprofit organizations are headquartered in City A. These nonprofits do a significant amount of soliciting in and around the city to test new fundraising and information distribution strategies.
The city has received numerous complaints from citizens about the nonprofits’ canvassing, particularly during events in the parks. For example, artists have a difficult time showcasing their work because the parks are too crowded, and parties and other events are frequently disrupted by fundraising activities. Parents are worried for the safety of their children because of the congestion. Most of the complaints are about canvassing in the city’s central park, which holds a world-famous farmers market every Saturday. During all of these events, the park might see thousands of visitors.
To reduce some of this congestion, City A passes an ordinance limiting solicitation and canvassing activities to specific areas of its central park during park-wide events:
Solicitors (and canvassers) are limited to ten of fourteen areas in the central park as designated on the attached map. Further, each area shall be limited to two solicitors from one organization at a given time. Any solicitor who interferes with the safety of park users or aggravates foot traffic congestion may be relocated to a different area.
To coordinate the use of the areas, the park director will make available a sign-up sheet at the beginning of each event day for each of the ten areas. The areas are available on a first come, first serve basis.
The ordinance specifically excludes from the ten available areas the four areas that are used for staging events and the farmers market booths.
B Org, a major nonprofit, frequently uses the park for canvassing. B Org receives a large percentage of its donations from canvassing during large events, such as the Saturday farmers market. B Org is concerned that the ordinance will significantly impact its fundraising. As a result, B Org brings suit against the city. B Org alleges that the ordinance is a violation of its freedom of speech under the First Amendment. Assume that B Org has standing to sue and that the case is otherwise justiciable in court. Further assume that the ordinance is not constitutionally vague.
- How should the court rule? Explain, focusing only on the freedom-of-speech issue.
How should the court rule? Explain, focusing only on the freedom-of-speech issue.