Wednesday, December 8, 2021
43.6 F
Fort Worth

Arkansas judge strikes down city’s panhandling ordinance

🕐 2 min read

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. (AP) — A federal judge has struck down another effort to restrict panhandling in Arkansas, citing concerns that a city’s ordinance violates the U.S. Constitution.

U.S. District Judge Robert Dawson on Monday imposed a permanent injunction on a 2017 ordinance in Hot Springs that outlaws physical interactions between pedestrians and people in vehicles, The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported. The ordinance violates the First Amendment by regulating speech based on content, Dawson said.

Laws that limit speech because of the message “pose the inherent risk that the government seeks not to advance a legitimate regulatory goal, but to suppress unpopular ideas or information,” Dawson said.

The city argued that the ordinance doesn’t target speech, since it prohibits people from interacting with vehicles and pedestrians in a way that creates safety concerns, regardless of their words.

Dawson rejected the argument, saying speech and physical interaction are often intertwined.

“The Court is unpersuaded by the city’s effort to separate physical interaction from its expressive intent or message as a means of avoiding conflict with the First Amendment,” he wrote. “All people everywhere routinely communicate non-verbal messages through physical interaction, often without noticing it.”

U.S. District Judge Billy Roy Wilson cited similar constitutional concerns in 2017 when he struck down a state law that prohibited begging. The decision followed a similar ruling he made in 2016 that ended a previous version of the law that had been in place for 30 years. Wilson’s most recent preliminary injunction of the state law remains on appeal.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas filed all three cases on behalf of panhandlers, including Michael Rodgers, a disabled veteran who said he begs so he has enough money to live. The ordinances were intentionally created to discriminate against beggars and panhandlers, Rodgers said.

___

Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com

Related Articles

Our Digital Sponsors

Latest Articles

Fort Worth Business Press Logo
This advertisement will close in
00
Months
00
Days
00
Hours
00
Minutes
00
Seconds
seconds..
Click here to continue to Fort Worth Business Press

Not ready to subscribe?

Try a few articles on us.

Enter your email address and we will give you access to three articles a month, to give us a try. You also get an opportunity to receive our newsletter with stories of the day.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Get our email updates

Stay up-to-date with the issues, companies and people that matter most to business in the Fort Worth.

  • Restaurants
  • Technology
  • and more!

FWBP Morning Brief

FWBP 5@5

Weekend Newsletter

  • Banking & Finance
  • Culture
  • Real Estate