Health & Human Services

Arizona's 1988 Ban on Begging in Public Ruled Unconstitutional

A federal judge has overturned a state law that made it a crime to beg in public, declaring it violated free speech rights.
October 7, 2013
 

A federal judge has overturned a state law that made it a crime to beg in public, declaring it violated free speech rights.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona and Flagstaff attorney Mik Jordahl filed the lawsuit earlier this year on behalf of Marlene Baldwin, an elderly Hopi woman who was arrested in Flagstaff for begging. Other plaintiffs included two other panhandlers and the organization Food Not Bombs.

“Many of the people arrested under the begging law simply needed a little assistance — not a jail cell,” said Jordahl in a statement. “Law enforcement must stand up for the constitutional rights of peaceful beggars and not just respond to complaints from powerful downtown business interests who would take those rights away and sweep homelessness and poverty out of sight.”

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