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Challenge To Supermarket Signature Collection Reaches Mass. High Court

BOSTON — The highest court in Massachusetts on Monday hears a challenge to the long tradition of political candidates gathering signatures outside supermarkets.

Steven Glovsky is a former candidate for Governor’s Council who filed a complaint against Roche Bros. Supermarkets. A store manager in Westwood had told him the supermarket had a policy against allowing candidates to collect signatures on store property.

Glovsky says the policy violated his rights under a section of the state constitution that guarantees the freedom and equality of elections.

Sarah Wunsch, a staff attorney with the Massachusetts ACLU, called the collection of signatures “fundamental to our democracy.”

“This is a really important question about the right of access to get people to sign your signature petitions,” she told WBUR.

But lawyers for Roche Bros. say state law does not grant a general right to collect signatures on private property.

“The property owners also have constitutional rights,” John Pagliaro, with the New England Legal Foundation, told WBUR.

The Supreme Judicial Court is scheduled to hear arguments in the case Monday.

With reporting by The Associated Press and the WBUR Newsroom

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