MALDEF

Comité de Jornaleros de Redondo Beach v. City of Redondo Beach, California

Local ordinances that prevent day laborers from soliciting employment in public areas hurt the Latino community and are contrary to the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of free speech. The Redondo Beach anti-solicitation ordinance made it unlawful to stand on the sidewalk and solicit employment, business, or contributions from an occupant of any motor vehicle. The City of Redondo Beach began aggressively enforcing its anti-solicitation ordinance in 2004 through a sting operation in which police officers posing as employers would pick up day laborers, arrest them, and transport them to jail.

On November 16, 2004, MALDEF filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Central District of California on behalf of day laborers in Redondo Beach. The lawsuit challenged the city’s anti-solicitation ordinance as a violation of the First Amendment free speech rights of day laborers.

On April 27, 2006, the Honorable Judge Consuelo Marshall struck down the City of Redondo Beach’s ordinance. Although Judge Marshall held that the ordinance was content-neutral, she found the ordinance unconstitutional as an impermissible time, place, and manner restriction on the free speech right of day laborers to solicit employment in the City of Redondo Beach.

The City of Redondo Beach appealed Judge Marshall’s ruling to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Oral argument was held before a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Pasadena, California on May 9, 2008.

This is one of many anti-solicitation ordinances that federal courts have struck down as unconstitutional First Amendment restrictions. The district court’s decision preserves the free speech rights of day laborers, and allows them to continue to solicit work and to provide for their families.

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