Monday, August 08, 2016

Ordinance Barring Charity From Soliciting Funds Is Invalidated

In Homeless Helping Homeless, Inc. v. City of Tampa, Florida, (MD FL, Aug. 5, 2016), a Florida federal district court enjoined the city of Tampa from enforcing an ordinance that bans the solicitation of money in the downtown area and an adjacent historic district.  The order comes in a suit by a charitable organization that offers emergency food and shelter to the homeless.  Relying on the Supreme Court's 2015 decision in Reed v. Town of Gilbert, the court held that challenged law is a content-based regulation that is subject to strict scrutiny.  It said in part:
Section 14-46(b) imposes no penalty if a speaker in a public park in downtown Tampa or on a sidewalk in Ybor City asks a passer-by about a political issue or offers a passer-by a brochure about a church or about a show at a carnival. If a speaker asks a passer-by to sign a petition, Section 14-46(b) imposes no penalty. But, if a speaker asks a passer-by for “donations or payment,” Section 14-46(b) criminally penalizes the speaker.