Recently, New York and other cities have taken steps to regulate panhandling activity in their communities. These regulations are informed by Broken Windows policing, which emphasizes addressing quality-of-life issues as a strategy for reducing crime. Yet government-imposed limitations on panhandling raise concerns about whether such measures violate panhandlers’ First Amendment rights. This note explores whether it is possible to separate the act of panhandling—defined as approaching a stranger in public and requesting immediate and gratuitous cash payment for oneself—from expression that is protected by the First Amendment. It concludes that, based on a concurrence from Justice Kennedy in International Society for Krishna Consciousness v. Lee, panhandling regulations should not be viewed as content-based speech restrictions, but rather should receive a lesser level of judicial scrutiny.
Steven J. Ballew,
Panhandling and the First Amendment: How Spider-Man is Reducing the Quality of Life in New York City,
81 Brook. L. Rev.
Available at: http://brooklynworks.brooklaw.edu/blr/vol81/iss3/5