People v. Barton


Defendant waded into traffic for the purpose of soliciting money from motorists.

Procedural History

Defendant argues that the law restricts unintended activities, like charity raising activities.  Trial court agreed and declared the law unconstitutional.  County course reversed, concluding that the law as content neutral, sufficiently narrowly tailored and left open ample alternative channels of communication.

Relevant Law

No person shall “solicit.”  “Solicit” is defined as “the spoken, written or printed word or such other acts or bodily gestures as are conducted in furtherance of the purposes of immediately obtaining money or any other thing of value.”  Legislative intent was to protect persons from “threatening, intimidating, or harassing behavior to keep public places safe.”  The purpose was also to keep the free flow of traffic moving and promote tourism and business.  It was said the intent was not to limit speech or expression.


“A regulation of the time, place, or manner of protected speech must be narrowly tailed to serve the government’s legitimate, content neutral interests… it need not be the least restrictive or least intrusive means of doing so.”  “So long as the means chosen are not substantially broader than necessary to achieve the government’s interest… the regulation will not be invalid simply because a court concludes that the government’s interest could be adequately served by some less-speech-restrictive alternative.


Whether the state’s use of “solicitation” is overly broad in violation of free speech.


“The test for determining overbreadth is whether the law on its face prohibits a real and substantial amount of constitutionally protected conduct.”  The council’s intent of promoting free flow of traffic is the relevant consideration.  The ban does not isolate any particular type of speech or opinion.  It was designed to deal with a specific problem:  people begging on the side of the road which creates a hazard and/or slows traffic.  Because (the ban) focuses on specific conduct that the city has an interest in controlling in order to further a significant content-neutral government interest, it is narrowly tailored.

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