Civil liberties group challenges anti-panhandling ordinances

Aug 30, 2018

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa is challenging city ordinances that prevent homeless people from asking for money in public places saying the local laws are unconstitutional.

The ACLU of Iowa says it sent on Tuesday formal demand letters to Council Bluffs, Des Moines, and Grimes insisting that they repeal their bans on panhandling.

ACLU of Iowa legal director Rita Bettis Austen says it's part of a larger effort with other organizations to notify cities in 12 states that such ordinances are unconstitutional.

The ACLU says a 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision set a new standard for protected speech resulting in more than 25 city anti-panhandling ordinances being declared unconstitutional. At least 31 cities repealed ordinances.

Representatives from Des Moines, Council Bluffs and Grimes didn't immediately respond to messages.

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