A homeless man has a big win after a federal judge ruled laws against asking drivers for money were, in fact, unconstitutional. Though Robert Fernandez is back on the freeway interchange asking drivers for money after winning a $150,000 judgment. However, he has yet to receive the financial judgement.
Homeless Man, Like Many Others, Have to Survive by Panhandling
The goal is simply to get through the day for Fernandez, according to his attorneys. He wants to do to so without the fear of getting arresting.
Fernandez’s Attorney Makes a Good Point in Pleading His Case
“Moreover, it is legal to beg for money. Just like it is legal to ask for money when are you are running for office. Thus also to support your church group or the Elks Lodge,” said attorney Hugh Eastwood. “ Even when the ordinance and the police were targeting an unpopular speaker for his speech. The speaker was with a sign that said, ‘God Bless, Homeless, Anything Helps.’”
Robert Fernandez is a Repeat Offender but He has Rights
Robert Fernando has been citing 64 times and arrested four times since 2017. This was for violating St. Louis County laws that required a solicitor’s license. It restricted panhandling in traffic and thus banning vagrancy. This was in Judge Stephen Limbaugh what he noted in his ruling. Yet, Limbaugh also had said all three laws violate the 1st and 14th amendment rights to free speech and due process.
Homeless Man: It’s Literally Not a Crime for Being Poor
“In fact, you can’t go arresting a person for being poor but that is what happening to Robert Fernandez,” attorney Bevis Schock said.
Fernandez said this was very much a matter of free speech and had no other comment to add. Another man who was working out here at I-55/270/Lindbergh interchange with Fernandez said the police would just find another baseless reason to “run him in.”
Enacting traffic safety laws is what St. Louis County can do based on Limbaugh’s ruling. Yet, those laws can’t just single out people asking for money versus other forms of roadside expression like “protesting, signature petitions, campaigning, or evangelizing.”