City of Springfield appealing panhandling ordinance ruling

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) _ The city of Springfield says it will appeal a federal judge’s ruling that the city’s anti-panhandling ordinance is unconstitutional.

The (Springfield) State Journal-Register reports the city gave the appeal notice Wednesday. The ordinance banned requests for immediate donations within five feet of a pedestrian. It was city code from September to December of 2015 and since has been broadened to include all types of “aggressive solicitations.”

U.S. District Judge Richard Mills found the five-foot rule unconstitutional because it was content-based, regulating what a person said and not how they said it. The city is appealing to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

City attorneys say the cost to appeal will be minimal. But panhandlers’ attorney Mark Weinberg disagreed, saying if the city loses it will likely owe another $20,000 in attorney’s fees.

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