Thayer v. City of Worcester, No. 13-2355 (1st Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
In 2013, the City of Worcester, Massachusetts adopted the Aggressive Panhandling Ordinance and the Pedestrian Safety Ordinance, which prohibited coercive or risky behavior by panhandlers, other solicitors, and demonstrators seeking the attention of motor vehicle drivers. Two plaintiffs were homeless people who solicited donations from the City’s sidewalks. The third plaintiff was a City school committee member who had customarily displayed political signs near traffic during the campaign season. Plaintiffs brought suit challenging the new ordinances as violating their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The district court denied a preliminary injunction against enforcing the ordinances, concluding that Plaintiffs failed to demonstrate a likelihood of success on the merits of any of their constitutional claims. The First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s denial of a preliminary injunction as to all provisions of the ordinances except for the Aggressive Panhandling Ordinance’s prohibition against nighttime solicitation, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying the preliminary injunction.