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A 2017 Arkansas law that prohibited loitering for the purpose of asking for charity or gifts became permanently unenforceable Thursday with a federal judge’s signature.

In a brief order closing a lawsuit the ACLU filed to successfully challenge the law’s constitutionality, U.S. District Judge Billy Roy Wilson made permanent a preliminary injunction he had issued Sept. 26, 2017, to stop the law’s enforcement statewide while its constitutionality was litigated.

Wilson said that both the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas and attorneys for the state agreed, in light of a federal appellate court’s ruling in November upholding the injunction, that there was no need to consider further arguments on either side.

A three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis agreed Nov. 6 with Wilson’s ruling that because the anti-loitering law applied only to those asking for charity or gifts and didn’t provide a clear reason for singling out that type of expression, it was unconstitutional.

The 8th Circuit recently returned the case to Wilson’s jurisdiction after rejecting the state’s request for a rehearing.

A year earlier, in November 2016, Wilson had similarly deemed unconstitutional a previous version of the law that had been in place for decades. That prompted the legislature to rewrite the law in 2017, but the ACLU and Wilson said the changes didn’t resolve the constitutionality questions.


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