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Proposed Anti-Picketing Ordinance Brews Free Speech Debate in S. Jersey

By David Madden

WEST DEPTFORD, N.J. (CBS) — A South Jersey township is considering an ordinance that would restrict picketing in front of private homes, following two recent demonstrations in recent weeks in front of the home of New Jersey state senate president Steve Sweeney.

Members of the New Jersey Second Amendment Society, who protested Sweeney’s support of gun control measures, are labeling this proposed ordinance “the Sweeney Protection Act.”

West Deptford Township officials say the proposed law would provide a buffer zone of 100 feet around the home of the person being picketed, and would require 24 hours’ advance notice to police.

“It applies only to residential dwellings and, in that context, it’s important to protect both free speech as well as the right to individuals to have privacy in their own home,” says township solicitor Michael Miles.

The measure would also limit demonstrations to no more than ten people, for one hour every two weeks.

Violators would face potential fines, jail time, or community service.

Sweeney has not commented on the proposed legislation.


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