ACLU challenges public begging law
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