The Right To Beg

Feb 28 2013 @ 2:41pm

A. Barton Hinkle covers anti-panhandling laws:

[T]he restrictions on soliciting never seem to apply to teen-agers in bikini tops waving car-wash signs. Or to campaign canvassers seeking petition signatures to get political candidates on the ballot. Or to firemen passing the boot for a local charity. Somehow it’s only the homeless who aren’t supposed to pester anybody.

Courts have struck down panhandling ordinances time and again. In 2011, an Arizona appeals court ruled that Phoenix could not ban panhandling after dark. Last March, a federal judge ruled against Utah’s anti-panhandling law. In August, a federal judge ruled against Michigan’s state law against panhandling in public places. Time and again the courts have found, as the 4th Circuit did last week, that “begging constitutes protected speech.” But cities across the country keep passing anti-panhandling ordinances anyway.