Kentucky Court Strikes Down Lexington Panhandling Ordinance

Feb 16, 2017

Kentucky's Supreme Court says a panhandling ordinance in Lexington violated the free speech rights of a man arrested while holding a sign asking for money.

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In striking down Lexington's ordinance, the court ruled Thursday that the law singled out begging as a type of speech that was subject to criminal prosecution.

The court's unanimous ruling came in the case of Dennis Champion, whom police cited for holding a sign asking for money along a busy Lexington street.

Champion's attorney said the ordinance singled out beggars, while people standing along roadways soliciting for groups or causes were spared punishment.

In his opinion, Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr. said the "true beauty" of the First Amendment is it "treats both Cicero and the vagabond as equals."