Norton v. City of Springfield, No. 13-3581 (7th Cir. 2015)Annotate this Case
Springfield has an ordinance that prohibits panhandling in its “downtown historic district”—less than 2% of the city’s area, containing its principal shopping, entertainment, and governmental areas. The ordinance defines panhandling as an oral request for an immediate donation of money. Signs requesting money are allowed, as are oral pleas to send money later. Plaintiffs received citations for violating this ordinance and alleged that they will continue panhandling but fear liability. They unsuccessfully sought a preliminary injunction. The Seventh Circuit upheld the ordinance in 2014, but granted rehearing in light of the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision, Reed v. Gilbert, and reversed. The majority in Reed stated: “A law that is content based on its face is subject to strict scrutiny regardless of the government’s benign motive, content-neutral justification, or lack of ‘animus toward the ideas contained’ in the regulated speech” and “a speech regulation targeted at specific subject matter is content based even if it does not discriminate among viewpoints within that subject matter.” The Seventh Circuit opined that the majority opinion in Reed effectively abolishes any distinction between content regulation and subject-matter regulation.
This opinion or order relates to an opinion or order originally issued on September 25, 2014.