The city of Redondo Beach plans to appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States the Ninth Circuit Court's decision to strike down a law that prohibits day laborers from soliciting work from motorists while standing on a public sidewalk or street, according to a news release from the City Attorney's Office.
- Previously: Court Strikes Down Day Laborers Law
The decision was announced Thursday night after a closed session of the City Council.
"The city has to protect public safety while preserving individual constitutional rights, and if you can't rely on binding federal court precedent then it becomes a virtually impossible task," City Attorney Mike Webb said. "We believe the Ninth Circuit opinion conflicts with decisions of the Supreme Court and that it should be reversed."
The Ninth Circuit's Sept. 16 decision from the 11-member panel overturned a decision by a three-judge panel from the same court in 2010.
The solicitation ordinance was passed in 1987 but enforced for the first time six years ago, when Redondo Beach police ran an undercover sting that resulted in the arrests of 60 day laborers. Those convicted of violating the ordinance were given 180-day suspended jail sentences, put on three years' probation and ordered to stay away from the sidewalk where they were arrested.
The two groups representing the day laborers argued that the ordinance violated the day laborers' constitutional rights to free speech and equal protection. The city, on the other hand, said the ordinance was necessary for traffic control and public safety.
According to the news release, the recent decision also overruled a 1986 Ninth Circuit decision from ACORN v. City of Phoenix, another anti-solicitation ordinance. Redondo Beach's law was based on the Phoenix law, which was upheld.
"The city of Redondo Beach went to great lengths in 1987 to draft an ordinance which balanced individual free speech rights with the city's interests in maintaining a safe, clean environment for residents, business owners and visitors," read the statement.
Nevertheless, the court disagreed, saying that the statute was so broadly written that it could apply to children shouting "car wash!" on the side of the street.
According to Webb, "The majority opinion has set forth the novel and frankly startling conclusion that the ordinance is 'geographically over inclusive' because it applies citywide to all streets and sidewalks in the city.
"This new standard is not compelled by the First Amendment, is unworkable and should be of concern to cities throughout the Ninth Circuit."
The city must turn in its petition to the Supreme Court by mid-December. If the court grants the petition, it will probably hear and decide the case the next year.