This week, a federal district court in Louisiana granted a motion for summary judgment invalidating the City of Slidell’s law requiring panhandlers to register and wear identification before soliciting donations. In a lengthy but thorough order, the court found the city’s law, which applied only to individuals seeking to solicit donations of money or services, content based and unconstitutional, and issued a permanent injunction against enforcement of the law.
The backstory of Slidell’s “panhandler ID” law starts in 2015. Since then, the city received 70 complaints relating to panhandling and solicitation, but only 14 were “connected to an identifiable individual.” Because of the difficulty of tracking down panhandlers who were violating city laws, the city council passed an ordinance containing certain registration and identification requirements. Specifically, the ordinance required individuals to complete an application at least 48 hours prior to panhandling. To complete the application, a person was to physically appear at the police department between 9:00 and 5:00 on a weekday, fill out the written application (which required listing an address, telephone number, email, and other identifying information), and show a photo identification. After a group of indigent individuals sued the city over the law, the city removed the 48-hour waiting period and required issuance of a permit for up to 72 hours of panhandling following filing of a complete application. The 72-hour permit can be extended for up to a year on certain conditions.
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