VICTORY! 

On September 26, 2017 a U.S. District Court blocked state-level restrictions on panhandling, granting a request by the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas to enjoin the law on the grounds that it unconstitutionally infringed on the First Amendment right to free speech. 

Like a previous begging ban that was struck down by the courts in 2016, the law criminalizes people who ask for help and the ACLU of Arkansas challenged the law on the grounds that it infringed on the right to free speech.  
 
In the ruling, Judge Billy Roy Wilson called the law “plainly unconstitutional” and said that the state had failed to “satisfy the rigorous constitutional standards that apply when government attempts to regulate expression based on its content.” 
 
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of two Arkansas residents, Michael Rodgers and Glynn Dilbeck, who face citation, arrest and prosecution under the new law, which bans standing or remaining “for the purpose of asking for anything as a charity or a gift” in “an aggressive or threatening manner.” These overly broad and poorly defined provisions have had a chilling effect on free speech rights.
 
In 2016 the ACLU of Arkansas successfully challenged a previous state law making it a crime to ask for money, food or other charity, on the basis that it violated the right to free speech. The federal court agreed that the law unlawfully criminalized protected free speech and struck it down.
 

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