Federal District Court Dismisses Panhandling Lawsuit - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Federal District Court Dismisses Panhandling Lawsuit

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The federal district court in Charlottesville has thrown out a lawsuit that challenged the city's panhandling ordinance.

Five homeless men filed the suit, claiming city codes that prevent panhandling near vehicle crossings, outdoor cafes, and vendors on the downtown mall are unconstitutional.

The court's opinion says those restrictions do not violate anyone's rights.


City of Charlottesville
Federal District Court Decision

The federal district court here in Charlottesville has issued an opinion dismissing the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the City's panhandling ordinance.  The Court found that the plaintiffs had legal standing to bring the lawsuit, but that the ordinance restrictions were not unconstitutional.  From the opinion:

"On the face of the ordinance, the restrictions at issue in the instant case are limited to situations in which people most likely would feel a heightened sense of fear or alarm, or might wish especially to be left alone.  It is important to recognize that this ordinance leaves unaffected Plaintiffs' rights to address a willing audience, and only serves to protect listeners from unwanted communication.  Here, the ordinance does not distinguish between favored and disfavored solicitation, and it does not discriminate based on a solicitor's identity.  The ordinance leaves open most of the Mall's ‘channels of communication', while protecting captive audiences (of certain outdoor diners, persons transacting purchases at the outdoor vending tables, and pedestrians waiting to cross the vehicular through-points) in just a very few areas of the Mall.  The challenged subsections are content-neutral, narrowly tailored time, place, and manner limitations on solicitation."

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