Fort Smith backs off anti-panhandling ordinance | Arkansas Blog

Fort Smith backs off anti-panhandling ordinance

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Alex Golden reports for the Times-Record that the Fort Smith City Council has repealed a second attempt to make panhandling illegal.

Critics threatened a lawsuit for infringement of 1st Amendment rights. An earlier ordinance was repealed after the ACLU sued. This one was repealed on a unanimous vote. The ordinance prohibited stepping into the roadway or using public right of way to ask for money, with an exception for 501c3 organizations.

An attorney for the Arkansas Municipal League, which provides legal advice to the city, warned against the ordinance.

Attorney Michael Mosley pointed out during a special meeting Tuesday that stepping out into the road not in a crosswalk is already illegal.

“You can’t simply regulate somebody requesting funds via a sign standing on the sidewalk. You can’t do it. I don’t think you can do it without certainly a lawsuit and without an extreme uphill battle,” he said.

Mosley added that the ACLU asserts that the permitting process outlined in the ordinance, which does not allow everyone to get a permit, as distinguishing between speakers and making certain speech illegal based on its content.
A welcome bit of good sense from usual Fort Smith (right-wing) governance. You know: There are NO acceptable limits on 2nd Amendment rights. 1st Amendment rights may be restricted to speech that the ruling government endorses.

CORRECTON: The original item said Tracy Pennarz voted against the repeal. Actually, she was the lone vote AGAINST adoption of the ordinance in the first place.


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