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NYCLU Cautions City Council Over Vendor Licensing Bill

The New York Civil Liberties Union spoke in opposition today to a City Council proposal of a bill that would restrict the number of vendors per city block. The NYCLU opposes the bill (Intro. Bill 621) in its present scheme because it raises serious Constitutional concerns about vendors who are selling First Amendment materials—such as books, pamphlets, artwork and other expressive materials. The bill also would limit and determine who would have priority in selling their wares, potentially raising Constitutional concerns.

Reasonable restrictions in this area may be appropriate, but this proposed bill is overly-restrictive. First, it would require First Amendment vendors to have a license—which is already a Constitutional concern. Second, it would also restrict the number and type vendor on any given block throughout the city and this ultimately would restrict and limit people’s First Amendment rights. The NYCLU submitted testimony on the bill May 4, 2005.

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