A federal appeals court has affirmed Western District of Michigan Judge Robert Jonker’s ruling that Michigan’s panhandling law is unconstitutional. Judge Jonker’s decision was appealed by State Attorney General Bill Schuette, who argued that the law, which criminalized panhandling, addressed safety, pedestrian, tourism, and vehicle traffic concerns. The Attorney General’s office argued that panhandling signs are often fraudulent, as those who use them often spend money on alcohol and are not “homeless and destitute.” The federal appellate court, in an opinion by Justice Boyce Martin Jr., determined that panhandling is a form of solicitation protected by the First Amendment. Had the law been left on the books, the Court’s opinion stated, it would chill a substantial amount of activity protected by the First Amendment.
If you are faced with a First Amendment issue in the state of Michigan, contact the Michigan First Amendment Lawyers at Revision Legal by calling 855-473-8474 or by filling out the contact form to the right.