In the “told you so” file-
The city of Dayton is considering new panhandling rules because its current regulations are likely unconstitutional and unlawfully restrict free speech.
The Dayton commission today is expected to introduce an ordinance to amend, replace and eliminate some regulations on solicitation that the city’s law department believes do not pass constitutional muster.
Recent court decisions have concluded that asking for money or expressing a need for assistance is protected free speech, and the Montgomery County Public Defender’s Office recently challenged Dayton’s rules on this basis.
Dayton is looking at eliminating the requirement that people who engage in solicitation register with the city. The city also is considering eradicating a prohibition on soliciting before sunrise or after dark.
“I’m glad to hear that Dayton is taking a good look at its ordinance,” said Joseph Mead, cooperating attorney with the ACLU of Ohio, which challenged the constitutionality of the city of Akron’s “anti-panhandling” ordinance. “Hopefully the city takes steps to avoid the litigation that Akron faced.
”In April 2015, the Montgomery County Public Defender’s Office filed a motion to dismiss some solicitation charges that were pending in a Dayton Municipal Court case involving Clayton Peck. Peck has been arrested more than 200 times for panhandling.
Angelina Jackson, assistant public defender, argued Dayton’s panhandling rules are unconstitutional because they prohibit certain types of speech based on content.
Jackson said the city also was inappropriately restricting First Amendment rights by requiring people to get a permit to solicit. Prosecutors dismissed the charges before a judge issued a ruling.
But today, Dayton’s own law department says the city’s ordinances on solicitation are unlikely to survive a legal challenge because of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the case Reed v. Town of Gilbert, Ariz.
In that case, the Supreme Court clarified how laws that restrict the topic or content of free speech are unconstitutional.
Since then, federal courts have ruled against municipalities’ “anti-panhandling” laws for violating the free speech of poor and homeless people, according to advocacy groups.
“In the wake of that decision, a number of federal courts have invalidated panhandling laws that imposed more regulations on begging than on other forms of speech,” wrote the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty.
The Reed v. Gilbert case has cast doubt on the constitutionality of laws like Dayton’s that seek to restrict charitable solicitations, said Mead, the attorney.
Source: Panhandling rules could change
and go back to…
With a serious shortage of police on the street, no new hires in sight, we’re going to make holding a sign up on the corner illegal? Really?
Besides the slight problem with the U.S. constitutional protection of free speech, the city is going to “fine” or “incarcerate” panhandlers? Why not just give them minimum-wage jobs cutting grass on vacant lots instead? Between the wasting of time of valuable police officers making- oh around $30 an hour, and the cost of paperwork, court time, jail- the fines that will be levied and not collected…
Laws that can’t be enforced are laws we don’t need. The legal defense on this one, when the ACLU steps in, will cost the city thousands.
Let’s just think about this for a minute- is wearing a shirt that says “I’m homeless please help” illegal too?
Naw, don’t elect Esrati, don’t listen to him, move along, nothing happening here.
Congratulations to Clayton Peck who may now get a very big check.
Too bad we can’t sue politicians for doing stupid things…