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Samuel II
Samuel II, Attorney at Law
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 27011
Experience:  Handle criminal matters in both state and federal courts.
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Can a city or township in Texas enact a law or ordinance

Customer Question

Can a city or township in Texas enact a law or ordinance which would forbid non-citizens of that city or township (regardless of age) from trick-or-treating (e.g. door-to-door soliciting for free candy) within that city or township? Do you know of any
examples of such laws or ordinances and from which city or township it came (e.g. exemplary ordinances)...? And if such laws or ordinances have been enacted, how are those laws enforced (e.g. how do citizens ascertain whether the trick-or-treater at their
door is a citizen of that city or township?)
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Peter Griesch replied 1 year ago.

No. Such a law would be unconstitutional. Perhaps a private gated community could, but a town could not. Moreover, even if it could, there would be no legal way to enforce such a law. Police may not stop and demand ID for no reason.

Thanks for your questions.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
This township has an ordinance in place that prohibits door-to-door soliciting. Is that unconstitutional? On what grounds would it be unconstitutional to prohibit anyone but citizens of this township from engaging in door-to-door soliciting for free candy or other consumables? This township has a wall around it with 5 entrances and exits but is not yet a gated community. A wristband system could be employed where no trick-or-treating would be allowed without a wristband. Citizens paying property taxes to this township could be issued wristbands in advance (or even day of) and made available at the township office for pickup with I.D. showing residency. Furthermore, non-citizens wishing to solicit door-to-door for free consumables in this township could be charged a fee to obtain such a wristband as compensation towards the extra expenses this township incurs at Halloween for having to quadruple the normal police force to manage the crowds as well as the expense of additional grounds clean-up the day after. The wrist band fee might be a nominal 50 cents in exchange for dollars of free consumables the trick-or-treater would receive -- but would compensate for the unusual expenses this township incurs as one of the most popular trick-or-treating communities in a 4 county region. Would such a wristband system be unconstitutional?
Expert:  Samuel II replied 1 year ago.


This is Samuel and I will discuss this and provide you information in this regard.

Without it being a bona fide "gated community", I suggest that such restrictions would be unconstitutional.

The First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States which provides for rights of free speech and assembly.

No governmental body may prohibit anyone from ringing someone else's doorbell at any time for any legitimate purpose, nor may the government prohibit anyone from giving “treats” to visitors at any time. Simply put, the residents of Texas and all states have the Constitutional right to ring doorbells on any date and time they choose asking for treats, and all have the right to receive visitors and give them treats at any time.

Expert:  Samuel II replied 1 year ago.

Please let me know if you have other questions in this regard. Keep in mind, I can only answer and provide information for what you ask. I do not know what you need to know, unless you tell me. Please rate positive as this is how I get credit for my time and information.

Thank you

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ours is not the only township that prohibits soliciting. If I understand you correctly, your interpretation of the Constitution under the First Amendment renders all prohibitions on soliciting (i.e. ringing someone's doorbell to solicit something of value) as unconstitutional. Is that correct? If so, all city ordinances against soliciting are unconstitutional such that townships which prohibit soliciting could be challenged in the appropriate court and potentially even sued for damages. Is this what you are saying?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
You cite the First Amendment protecting free speech and assembly. How is someone ringing your doorbell to solicit something of value considered "free speech" or "assembly"...? The framers of our Constitution were speaking to free speech in regards ***** ***** an opinion, ostensibly towards governance of our communities, state and nation although free speech refers to other areas beyond government. The framers were NOT trying to create rights for salespeople so they could sell you something and take your money, or for beggars to have rights to beg you for something of value at your door. I may disagree if your interpretation of free speech and assembly as something relating to soliciting at citizen's doors.
Expert:  Samuel II replied 1 year ago.

Thank you

If a home owner would like to put up a no solicitation or no trespassing sign they can do that.

Expert:  Samuel II replied 1 year ago.

And it would be their prerogative to allow someone then on their property or not. But there should not be any laws or ordinances to that effect, unless the HOA is a gate one and the No Trespassing/No Solicitation signs are posted on the gates to entry.

Expert:  Samuel II replied 1 year ago.

At that point, it would be considered private property and something the HOA members agreed upon.

Expert:  Samuel II replied 1 year ago.

And it is not my interpretation of the 1st Amendment. The Supreme Court of the United States has repeatedly ruled that while many local laws that restrict solicitation are unconstitutional, privately posted signs are a legitimate way to tell salespeople to leave you alone. In the words of one Supreme Court opinion, “The Court has traditionally respected the right of a householder to bar, by order or notice, solicitors, hawkers, and peddlers from his property.”

Expert:  Samuel II replied 1 year ago.

The Court has traditionally respected the right of a householder to bar, by order or notice, solicitors, hawkers, and peddlers from his property. See Martin v. City of Struthers, supra; cf. Hall v. Commonwealth, 188 Va. 72, 49 S.E.2d 369, appeal dismissed, 335 U.S. 875, 69 S.Ct. 240, 93 L.Ed. 418 (1948). In this case the mailer's right to communicate is circumscribed only by an affirmative act of the addressee giving notice that he wishes no further mailings from that mailer.

AND so while this pertains to the mailing of solicitation material, it holds true for any such solicitations. The point being, a homeowner can make the decision, but lawmakers shall not.

I don't want to get to involved as not to confuse you. But for the courts, the premise is the same whether they are knocking on one's door or it comes in the form of a mail being delivered. IN the case of mail delivery the homeowner has the option to state No Trespassing via a No Mailing List. But it's the same for when someone wants to come onto a property. The homeowner has the right to place a sign. The government does not have that right for each citizen.

Expert:  Samuel II replied 1 year ago.

I hope this helps clarify. But if you have more questions or want to continue to debate this on the grounds of the 1st Amendment, please let me know. Thank you

Expert:  Samuel II replied 1 year ago.

And I realize I might have gone off track from the door to door solicitation ordinances and how or how not they are legal.

Here is a LINK for you to review and you can see any ordinance can be challenged for Constitutionality