WORCESTER — The American Civil Liberties Union filed a suit in federal court today on behalf of three city residents — one a school committee member — to block the panhandling ordinances that took effect in late January.
The civil suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Worcester, by lawyer Kevin P. Martin claims the ordinances are unconstitutional, violate free speech and the right for people to peacefully solicit donations in public.
Mr. Martin, a volunteer lawyer from the Boston firm of Goodwin Procter LLP, also said in the suit that the ordinances target the poor and homeless. The plaintiffs are listed as Robert Thayer and Sharon Brownson, two people described as homeless city residents; and Tracy O'Connell Novick, a member of the school committee here.
"The laws are intended to prevent so-called 'aggressive' begging, but in fact prohibit a great deal of peaceful conduct which is protected expression," Mr. Martin said.
City Solicitor David M. Moore said as of Monday afternoon the city had not received the complaint. He said the city would respond accordingly in court.