ACLU chal­lenges pub­lic beg­ging law

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NOTHWEST ARKANSAS - LINDA SATTER

In Novem­ber, a fed­eral judge in Lit­tle Rock in­val­i­dated part of an Arkansas law that banned pub­lic beg­ging, say­ing it was un­con­sti­tu­tional.

On Mon­day, just more than eight months later, the Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union of Arkansas chal­lenged this year’s leg­isla­tive re­write of the dis­puted sec­tion, which the at­tor­ney gen­eral’s of­fice con­ceded last year was un­con­sti­tu­tional.

The ACLU con­tends in a law­suit filed in fed­eral court in Lit­tle Rock that the new law, which went into ef­fect last week, “has the ex­act same ef­fect as the pre­vi­ously in­val­i­dated law.”

In a Nov. 22 rul­ing, U.S. Dis­trict Judge Billy Roy Wil­son per­ma­nently en­joined law en­force­ment of­fi­cers across the state from en­forc­ing Sec­tion (a)(3) of Arkansas Code 5-17-213. It had been in ef­fect for more than 30 years and made it il­le­gal for a per­son to “linger or re­main in a pub­lic place or on the premises of an­other for the pur­pose of beg­ging.”

Other sec­tions of the state loi­ter­ing law weren’t af­fected by Wil­son’s rul­ing and re­mained in­tact. They pro­hib­ited lin­ger­ing or prowl­ing “un­der cir­cum­stances that war­rant alarm or con­cern for the safety of per­sons or prop­erty in the vicin­ity” with­out iden­ti­fy­ing one­self and giv­ing po­lice a “rea­son­ably cred­i­ble ac­count” for

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