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The First Amendment Upholds Your Right to Hold a Sign to Get a Job

Dateline: September 28, 2011. Robert Longley of About.com Guide, recounts the ruling [9-2] of “the San Francisco-based U.S. that your right to stand by roads holding signs asking for jobs is protected by the First Amendment.” Mr. Longley has a sense of humor…he said, “Apparently implementing its own plan to create new jobs…”

As Longley continues, “it all started in May 1987, when Redondo Beach, California adopted an ordinance making it illegal for persons standing on streets, highways, sidewalks or alleys from soliciting drivers and passengers of vehicles for employment, business or contributions. The ordinance also made it illegal for drivers to “stop, park or stand” their vehicle in order to hire or negotiate with the curbside job seekers.
According to a memo from its city attorney, Redondo Beach created the anti-street solicitation ordinance in reaction to traffic congestion, hazards and other “difficulties” resulting from the gathering of large numbers of day laborers – many of them migrant workers – at major intersections seeking work or contributions from motorists.
In 2004, two groups representing day laborers, the Comite de Jornaleros de Redondo Beach (Comite) and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON), filed a lawsuit challenging the ordinance’s constitutionality.
Redondo Beach appealed the ruling to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld the District Court’s decision finding the ordinance unconstitutional.
In its 9-2 decision, the Court of Appeals stated that the ordinance failed to meet the “time, place, and manner of expression” First Amendment standard established by the U.S. Supreme Court. Under the “time, place, and manner of expression” standard, the government is allowed create regulations limiting speech only if those regulations address a specific “significant government interest” and provide for “ample alternative channels of communication.”
According to the Court of Appeals, the goal of the Redondo Beach ordinance – traffic control – could have been achieved by enforcing existing traffic laws and regulations without restricting freedom of speech.
“Because the Ordinance does not constitute a reasonable regulation of the time, place, or manner of speaking, it is facially unconstitutional,” wrote the Court of Appeals in its decision.
Latino Rights Group Cheers Ruling: The 9th District Court’s decision was praised by the Latino legal civil rights organization MALDEF as setting strong precedent on the rights of day laborers.”

Thank you, Mr. Longley, for alerting us to this important ruling. American citizens and perhaps immigrants are protected by the First Amendment’s free speech clause in order to advertise their need to have a job. Longley had a tongue-in-cheek tone to his report; however, he has pointed out our right to speak on the street corners.

I urge you to contact your Congress representatives and senators and to stay involved by voting for your own rights to be upheld. It is YOUR Constitution!

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