City Government

Fed Court Backs McLean,GUARDIAN God Bless

homeless17U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge ruled Thursday on a civil rights action filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and two individuals. His order essentially puts enforcement of Boise’s panhandling law on “hold.”

In September we noted the lonely position of Councilor Lauren McLean for “Being the voice for democracy, fair play, and equal rights” when she voted against Boise’s anti-panhandling ordinance which was passed by the rest of the council.

The GUARDIAN also opposed the ordinance, noting it was clearly aimed at one segment of the population while providing for exemption to other groups such as the “fill the boot” charity run by firefighters. Equal protection is required of all laws under the U.S. Constitution.

Lodge noted Boise’s ordinance violates First Amendment free-speech protections writing,“The purpose of the ordinance is to suppress particular speech related to seeking charitable donations and treats this speech content different than other solicitation speech.”

“Freedom of speech may be the most important right to protect in order to maintain our republic. The court is mindful that citizens asking or even begging other citizens for money can make the person being asked feel uncomfortable and imposed upon. But in public places, all citizens must tolerate speech they don’t agree with, find to be a nuisance, insulting or outrageous,” according to Judge Lodge.

Our May advice to the City mothers and fathers still stands: “FAGETTABOUTIT! There are already enough laws on the books to cover disturbing the peace, disorderly conduct, obstructing traffic, etc. When a law is aimed at a specific segment of society, if the trigger is pulled it can backfire.”

Comments & Discussion

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  1. “Equal protection is required of all laws under the U.S. Constitution.”

    Remember that this is IDAHO! Where the rules only apply to the proletarians, and the constitution has little meaning, as most “lawmakers” haven’t even read it!

  2. Grumpy ole guy
    Jan 3, 2014, 6:28 pm

    The Judiciary to our rescue, once again. Is there no legal adviser to the Council? Or, do they simply no listen.

  3. – they simply don’t care.

  4. The 1st Amendment is not universal. For example, one may not make bomb threats or any other threatening statements to others, nor the most famous one, you can’t yell “FIRE” in a crowded theatre.

    I believe 2 different TV stations have proven with hidden cameras that at least some so-called homeless are working together, in shifts and arriving and leaving in a car. Too bad they didn’t run the license plates, go to their address and do a bit of ambush journalism. Yes, your plates are public record as long as the searcher is willing to sign their name and give their ID.

    The conservative Supreme Court also limited free speech at abortion clinics in Colorado in 2000.

    EDITOR NOTE–As we read the court, the content of the message is not at issue. The issue is the right to deliver the message. It makes no difference if the beggar is homeless or a millionaire–he has the right to speech. If the local government decides who can and who cannot exercise the right to free speech, voices like you will be allowed and the GUARDIAN would be eliminated. Signs asking for church donations would be OK, but not signs for yard sales.

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