South-Western Legal Studies in Business

City May Restrict Face-to-Face Solicitations

Alaska high court held that a city had an interest in protecting the character of its historic district by an ordinance that prohibited person-to-person solicitations on the street. The regulation did not violate the First Amendment, as other avenues of solicitation were possible.

Topic Constitutional Law
Key Words

First Amendment; Commercial Speech; Solicitation; Historic District

C A S E   S U M M A R Y

The City of Skagway, Alaska, adopted an ordinance to curb aggressive sales tactics aimed at pedestrians and tourists and to preserve the historic character of the town. It restricts person-to-person solicitation activities to enclosed structures or to areas containing at least 200 square feet of vending space. Some tour operators, who solicited customers on the street, contested the ordinance as a violation of the First Amendment. The trial court held that the ordinance was too broad in scope. The city appealed.


Reversed. The ordinance is not unconstitutionally overbroad. It defines the restricted activities to be off-premises (out of store or booth) solicitation attempts to interest pedestrians in commercial transactions. Such solicitation could occur inside stores or other vending places of at least 200 square feet, so it is not a blanket restriction on all such commercial activity. The city has an interest in protecting the historic district.


City of Skagway v. Robertson, 143 P.3d 965 (Sup. Ct., Alaska, 2006)

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