Appeals court: Albuquerque ordinance violates 1st Amendment

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A federal appeals court on Wednesday upheld a lower court’s ruling that an Albuquerque ordinance aimed at curbing panhandling in certain places wasn’t sufficiently narrow to avoid violating First Amendment rights.

The ordinance prohibits pedestrians from congregating close to a highway entrance or ramp, occupying a median considered unsuitable for pedestrians or having an exchange of any kind with somebody in a vehicle in a traffic lane.

City officials said the restrictions address pedestrian safety concerns and were narrowly tailored to not restrict speech more than necessary. The ordinance was challenged by panhandlers, protesters and people who pass out items to the needy.