Friday, April 03, 2009

Panhandling is protected by the Constitution,
another judge rules

A panhandling ordinance that prohibits solicitation of money at intersections and other locations is unconstitutional, an Oregon judge has ruled.

The judge found that the city of Medford's ordinance violated the Oregon Constitution, which prohibits passing any law restricting freedom of speech.

"I think it's important for government officials to understand that they cannot prohibit expression because they find it offensive," said David Fidanque, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon. One of the ACLU's members filed the lawsuit.

The city will decide whether to rewrite the law to bring it in line with the judge's ruling or appeal the decision, said Police Chief Randy Schoen. In the meantime, officers already have been told to stop citing panhandlers in light of the judge's ruling.

"We're disappointed," said Schoen. "We were looking out for the majority of folks impacted by this."

Medford created the ordinance in January 2008 after receiving complaints from citizens about panhandlers at intersections and at freeway off-ramps. The police chief said Medford's efforts to ban panhandling received overwhelming support from citizens worried about safety concerns at intersections.

The judge did uphold a portion of the ordinance that prohibits aggressive panhandling, which the ACLU didn't oppose.

Read the Mail Tribune report here.


At 8:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i work for my school newspaper at umass and am currently wiritng an article about some of these issues and would like to ask you some questions. is that possible? my email is

At 3:44 PM, Blogger Marcie Granville said...

I personally feel the judge is right about opposing this issue I myself and my soon to be husband have been street bound for the last 3 years he has been for ten. We are not criminals we just haven't had a opportunity for change since you can't get a job without a place and vise a versa sometimes the people you pass by are not looking to get a beer but a hand up does that make me a criminal? It's nice to know there is still hope that there are caring people. Think about it


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