LITTLE ROCK – A federal court today struck down Hot Springs ordinance 6217, which attempted to restrict panhandling by prohibiting interactions between pedestrians and occupants of motor vehicles.
U.S. District Court Judge Robert Dawson permanently enjoined Hot Springs from enforcing the ordinance, which he called “a content-based regulation of speech that does not survive constitutional strict scrutiny.”
“We’re glad the court saw this ordinance for what it is: an unconstitutional attempt to criminalize poor people for asking for help,” said Rita Sklar, ACLU of Arkansas executive director. “Keeping our communities and roadways safe does not require targeting our most vulnerable citizens or trampling on their First Amendment rights. Today’s ruling makes clear that using public safety as a pretense to circumvent the First Amendment and censor certain kinds of speech is not going to hold up in court.”
A copy of the order is available at: https://www.acluarkansas.org/sites/default/files/order_2019-4-1.pdf