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Monday, September 28, 2015

Update on Panhandling Ordinance Case

We posted a few weeks ago about a Springfield panhandling ordinance that was challenged, and partially struck down as unconstitutional.  The court in that case cited to the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Reed v. Gilbert that held that a town's sign regulations were unconstitutional as improper content-based regulations of speech. In the Springfield case, the 7th Circuit determined that the city's panhandling ordinance suffered from the same deficiencies as Gilbert's sign ordinance - i.e., that the municipal ordinances regulated speech based on its content - in the case of panhandling, the content or message was a request for money.

The City of Springfield recently went back to the "drawing board" and revised its ordinance to adopt a new regulation on aggressive panhandling.  That regulation would require panhandlers to stay at least 5 foot away from the people they are soliciting money from. The City Council's position is that the court did not invalidate the City's authority to regulate "aggressive panhandling."  

The City had previously asked the 7th Circuit to reconsider its decision, and hear the case "en banc" (i.e., by all of the 7th Circuit judges).  That request was denied, but the City has reported it will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

UPDATE:  A lawsuit has already been filed to challenge the constitutionality of the revised panhandling ordinance. We will keep you posted on this challenge.

Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf


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