Letter to Montgomery, AL Mayor re: Panhandling Ordinance (2019)
The Law Center wrote this letter to urge the Mayor of Montgomery, AL to not sign an ordinance which prohibits panhandling in the City of Montgomery. Since the landmark Reed v. Gilbert case in 2015, every panhandling ordinance challenged in federal court—at 25 of 25 to date—including many with features similar to the ones in Montgomery, has been found constitutionally deficient. At least 31 additional cities have repealed their panhandling ordinances when informed of the likely infringement on First Amendment rights. The City’s ordinance not only almost certainly violates the constitutional right to free speech protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, it is also bad policy, and numerous examples of better alternatives now exist which the City could draw on. We recommend the mayor and the city council to reconsider the ordinance and instead consider more constructive alternatives or risk potential litigation.