KERRVILLE—Two residents and a local grassroots organization have filed a federal lawsuit against the city for its recently passed ordinance targeting canvassers, peddlers, and solicitors.

In a Wednesday legal filing, residents Terri Hall and Rachel Vickers, alongside We The People: Liberty in Action, argued that the Kerrville City Council passed the ordinance to stifle political opposition.

They specifically argued the ordinance makes the “price of participating in civic matters too costly and burdensome” for those challenging incumbents.

Kerrville’s ordinance defined solicitors and peddlers as those who push for someone to buy a product or service and require that they obtain a license to operate within the city. Canvassers, on the other hand, pertain to religious or political activism and do not require a license.

However, all three groups have their hours limited to 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., cannot trespass on property where a “No Solicitors” or similar signage is visible, and cannot work on public sidewalks.

“The City of Kerrville has in its crosshairs citizens who pass out political literature to fellow citizens on sidewalks, citizens who hold signs in support of candidates near a polling place, and citizens who knock on the doors of their fellow community members to speak about issues of civic importance outside of hours specified by the city,” the filing read.

The lawsuit referred to the restrictions as “flagrantly” violating the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, citing a similar case in 2015 in which citizens challenged local speech stipulations and won.

Federal courts have historically accepted content-based regulations by cities. However, like the 2015 case mentioned, some recent Supreme Court decisions have ruled against local ordinances.

The lawsuit against Kerrville was filed in the San Antonio division of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas.

Hallthe main plaintiffis also the co-founder of We The People: Liberty in Action, a 501(c)4 based in the Hill Country that was heavily involved in the March 5 Republican primary.

Due to the group’s success in the primary, a source theorized to Texas Scorecard that the city council’s conspicuous timing in pushing the anti-solicitation ordinance could be related.

Recently, Hall shared with Texas Scorecard an email from Kerrville City Attorney Mike Hayes, dated April 11, in which he defends the ordinance and maps out areas for political candidates to canvass.

In one key election day site, the Callioux Theater, canvassers cannot operate within 100 feet of the front door. That means the typical Election Day resources distributed by candidates or PACs will be difficult to distribute.

“The city is trying to claim their ordinance does not scoop up political and religious speech—that it’s only designed for businesses which are soliciting or peddling commercial products,” Hall wrote.

“However, when you look at what the city attorney sent to candidates and people like us who distribute material to voters, it is very clear the intent is to restrict political speech and direct interaction with voters at the polls well beyond the 100-foot mark,” she added.

Kerrville City Councilman Roman Garcia, who opposed the anti-solicitation ordinance, will face fellow Councilman Joe Herring Jr., who strongly backed it, in the May 4 local election for mayor.

Another council member who supported the ordinance is trying to stave off a more conservative primary challenger in the same election.

Texas Scorecard reached out to the city of Kerrville for comment but did not hear back before publication.

Luca Cacciatore

Luca H. Cacciatore is a journalist for Texas Scorecard. He is an American Moment inaugural fellow and former welder.