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A federal judge’s ruling that a Utah law on panhandling is unconstitutional is raising concerns about whether the decision will undo similar laws across the country that keep pedestrians and motorists from being pestered for money.
U.S. District Judge Ted Stewart -- a 1999 Clinton appointee -- made the ruling Thursday in response to a 2010 lawsuit filed on behalf of three Salt Lake City homeless people who claimed their right to free speech had been violated when arrested for begging for money.
“The ruling could absolutely have an impact on other courts,” Liz Wiehl, a Harvard-educated trial lawyer and Fox News legal analyst, said Friday. “While they couldn’t use it as binding precedent outside of the (9thCircuit), other courts could look to this decision in making decisions on similar situations. Look for similar suits down the road.”
State solicitors argued the ban on standing near a road to panhandle was to address traffic and public safety concerns.