There is quite the fervor among certain American parents about the teaching of critical race theory in public schools. In a recent case out of Missouri, Judge Stephen Clark granted an injunction in favor of one such group of parents. Brooks v. Francis Howell Sch. Dist., 4:22-CV-00169-SRC, 2022 WL 1185147 (E.D. Mo. Apr. 21,
Tenth Circuit Strikes Down Oklahoma City Median Restrictions
Last week, the federal Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit ruled that an Oklahoma City law prohibiting people from remaining on street medians violated the First Amendment. The law was challenged by a diverse group, including panhandlers, minority political parties, and even joggers.
In 2015, apparently in response to concerns regarding panhandling, Oklahoma City passed a law that prohibited individuals from sitting, standing, or remaining in street medians throughout the city. Although the law was motivated by concerns regarding panhandlers, the city sought to justify the law with the presentation of safety statistics regarding pedestrians in street medians. A group of plaintiffs sued the city, and it revised the ordinance in 2017 to limit the law’s coverage to medians along streets with speed limits of 40 miles per hour or greater. Again, the city justified its amended law with safety information.…
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Tenth Circuit Denies Rehearing In Utah Panhandling Case, Affirms Finding Of Content Neutrality
Last week, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an order denying a motion by the plaintiff in the case of Evans v. Sandy City for an en banc rehearing. In ruling on the motion, the court issued a revised opinion. In the revised opinion, the court reaffirmed that Sandy City, Utah’s prohibition on sitting …
Utah City’s Median Restriction Found Content Neutral, Constitutional
Earlier this summer, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals held that Sandy City, Utah’s restriction on sitting or standing in a street median of less than 36 inches in width met constitutional muster. Although the regulation was principally aimed at addressing panhandling activity, the court found the regulation to be content neutral, affirming an earlier district court ruling in the case. The court’s decision appears to offer an avenue for local governments to address safety concerns associated with panhandling, without treading on constitutionally unstable ground.
The Supreme Court’s 2015 decision in Reed v. Town of Gilbert resulted in the invalidation of many restrictions on panhandling in municipalities around the United States. To get around the legal defects associated with panhandling prohibitions, municipalities—like Sandy City—have adopted general restrictions on sitting, standing, and remaining in street medians to achieve the same ends.…
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Second Circuit Affirms District Court Injunction Against Oyster Bay Solicitation Ordinance
On Tuesday, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Town of Oyster Bay, New York’s prohibition on motor vehicle solicitation of employment violated the First Amendment. The appellate court’s ruling affirms an earlier district court ruling that found similarly. The plaintiffs in the case were two groups that advocate for the interests of day laborers.
Oyster Bay enacted an ordinance in 2009 that read, in relevant part, “It shall be unlawful for any person standing within or adjacent to any public right-of-way within the Town of Oyster Bay to stop or attempt to stop any motor vehicle utilizing said public right-of-way for the purpose of soliciting employment of any kind from the occupants of said motor vehicle.” Oyster Bay’s ordinance was ostensibly an effort to curb day laborer solicitation.
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Louisiana Town’s “Panhandler ID” Law Struck Down
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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Shreveport, Louisiana Door-to-Door Solicitation Ban Upheld
Late last month, a federal district court in Louisiana upheld the City of Shreveport’s ban on door-to-door commercial solicitation, finding that the ban was supported by a substantial governmental interest in community safety, and further finding that the ban directly advanced the government’s interest. The plaintiff, Vivint Louisiana, LLC, is a maker and seller of…
Tampa Panhandling Ban Found Unconstitutional
Last Friday, a federal district court in Florida found that the City of Tampa’s restriction on requests for donation or payment—aimed at preventing panhandling and solicitation on city streets—violated the First Amendment. The court’s decision follows on several other decisions around the country that have invalidated bans on solicitation of donations on the grounds that such bans are not content neutral.
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ABA Program to Review Recent Panhandling, Solicitation Cases
The American Bar Association Sections of State and Local Government and Civil Rights and Social Justice are teaming up for a webinar on June 14, 2016 at 1:00 p.m. ET to discuss recent court decisions on the sticky issue of panhandling and solicitation. Since the Supreme Court decided Reed v. Town of Gilbert, many…
Massachusetts Court: City’s Panhandling Ban is Content Based, Unconstitutional
Following post-Reed decisions in other courts, the federal district court in Massachusetts has found Lowell’s ban on aggressive panhandling content based and unconstitutional.
McLaughlin v. City of Lowell, ___ F. Supp. 3d ___, 2015 WL 6453144 (D. Mass. Oct. 23, 2015)