No statutory provisions or departmental regulations have been produced which articulate the standards to govern the mode or outcome of this licensing process. At oral argument, the Corporation Counsel conceded that from time to time applications for licenses have been denied, but that no reasons for such denials are given. For example, it is apparent that certain criminal convictions will disqualify an applicant for a license; yet, no standards exist to specify the types of convictions which will result in the denial of a license.
It is a settled proposition that administrative control over the exercise of first amendment freedoms must be based on "narrow, objective and definite" criteria. These specific standards preclude officials from acting in an arbitrary and discriminatory fashion. See, e.g., Shuttlesworth v. Birmingham, 394 U.S. 147, 89 S. Ct. 935, 22 L. Ed. 2d 162 (1968).
In the instant situation, the District of Columbia has vested control over the right to sell publications in public places in an administrative agency which has no appropriate standards to guide its actions. Hence, we hold the statute as drafted not validly enforceable as to plaintiffs.
We have no occasion to consider whether the statute could be confined to the point of constitutionality through the issuance of appropriate clarifying and implementing regulations. That question is for the appropriate authorities of the District of Columbia Government, at least in the first instance. It is enough for this court to say that the law as it stands today, without the limitation of interpretive regulations or ordinances, cannot be enforced consistently with the First Amendment rights of plaintiffs.
It is, therefore, this 5th day of February, 1971, ordered, that
1. Defendant Wilson, his officers, employees, agents, servants, and all other persons under his direction and control as Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia, are hereby enjoined from arresting or otherwise interfering with any vendor of the publication entitled " Tasty Comix " for failure to have a vendor's license as required by 47 D.C. Code § 2336 while selling or distributing said publication on the public streets or in public places at other than fixed locations;
2. Promptly upon receipt of this Order, defendant Wilson is directed to formulate in writing and to distribute to all District and Precinct Commanders for further dissemination to all officers and employees of the Metropolitan Police Department the fact and nature of this Permanent Injunction.