Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Homeless feeding lawsuit
settled in Jacksonville

A University of North Florida professor ticketed for feeding homeless people at a Jacksonville church has agreed to settle his religious freedom case against the city in exchange for a new law.

The proposed new ordinance would still regulate food distribution in the city but exempts "any person motivated by bona fide religious beliefs" protected by state and federal laws. The religious exemption also applies to fees and permits.

"It doesn't attempt to define what is protected First Amendment activity. It just says that it is not applicable to First Amendment activity," said city attorney Cindy Laquidara.

The new ordinance is scheduled for a final vote June 26 and would still have to be signed by the mayor.

Michael Herkov was cited in August by Jacksonville police for distributing food without a permit. He faced a maximum $100 fine and 60 days in jail before the State Attorney's Office dropped the case two months later. Herkov sued, saying the city was interfering with the exercise of his religion by preventing him from feeding homeless people.

Read the Florida Times-Union article here and see previous post here.


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