Panel rules anti-solicitation law too broad

Attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union and a Latino-rights advocacy group on Monday praised a federal appellate court ruling that will likely have implications for Costa Mesa's anti-solicitation ordinance.

In a 3-1 ruling, a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals panel on Friday ruled that Redondo Beach's law that prohibits individuals from standing on streets or highways to solicit employment violates constitutional free speech protections.

Justices stated

that Redondo's ordinance was too broadly worded and could conceivably apply to everyone from Girl Scouts hawking cookies to children selling lemonade.

Costa Mesa has a similar law aimed at regulating day laborers.

"This calls into question the constitutionality of Costa Mesa's ordinance," said ACLU attorney Belinda Escobosa Helzer.

The ACLU, along with the National Day Laborer Organizing Network and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), filed a federal suit challenging Costa Mesa's anti-solicitation ordinance in February 2010.

The action was in response to a police crackdown last year, when undercover Costa Mesa police officers solicited work from day laborers on Harbor Boulevard, than arrested about a dozen men who responded, ultimately leading to 11 of them being deported.

Costa Mesa's anti-solicitation ordinance was passed in 2005 and is worded similarly to Redondo Beach's. The city has not been enforcing its anti-solicitation ordinance, pending the outcome of Redondo Beach's case.

City Attorney Tom Duarte declined to comment on the ruling because he had not reviewed it as of Monday.

Twitter: @JosephSerna

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