Federal judge to hear case for Oklahoma City panhandling law

The Associated Press and The Oklahoman - July 2, 2018 4:17 pm

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – A federal judge says he’ll hear arguments over an Oklahoma City ordinance that critics contend infringes on the free speech rights of panhandlers.

The Oklahoman reports that U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton says he’ll weigh arguments on the 2015 ordinance restricting access to traffic medians near busy intersections, where panhandlers seek handouts as drivers wait to turn left.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma filed a lawsuit in 2016 alleging the ordinance unconstitutionally restricts panhandlers’ activities. The lawsuit accuses the city of singling out panhandlers for “differential enforcement.”

The City Council amended the ordinance in November rolling back some restrictions, but the ACLU said the lawsuit would continue.

Heaton says the ACLU’s argument that the ordinance targets panhandlers is “half-hearted” and set the case for trial in September.


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