Cites Federal Appeals Court Ruling Holding Similar Law Violates Free Speech Rights

Los Angeles, CA – MALDEF announced yesterday that it has sent – on behalf of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) – the first wave of demand letters to a dozen municipalities across California threatening legal action if they fail to repeal laws limiting the right to solicit employment, business or contributions in public areas. While applicable to everyone, these laws have generally targeted day laborers seeking work.

Several similar laws have been challenged and struck down by courts over the last decade. More than 50 cities have enacted legislation that fall under the prohibition outlined in the Ninth Circuit’s ruling in Comité de Jornaleros de Redondo Beach v. City of Redondo Beach (“Redondo Beach”). Redondo Beach is binding precedent throughout the western United States.

MALDEF President and General Counsel Thomas A. Saenz stated, “The binding en banc Ninth Circuit Redondo Beach decision was issued six months ago. Cities with similarly unconstitutional ordinances must act now to ensure that the First Amendment free speech rights of day laborers and others are acknowledged and protected. Even laws that are not enforced regularly can deter constitutionally protected expression. We look forward to working with cities to ensure that repeal of these illegal laws moves forward apace.”

Saenz requested that the cities inform him of their intent to repeal the unconstitutional ordinances in order to avoid the high costs of litigation on the issue. Cities contacted include Alhambra, Buena Park, Calabasas, Fontana, Fountain Valley, Lemon Grove, Monrovia, Moorpark, Ontario, Sunnyvale, Tustin and Turlock.

Last month, the United States Supreme Court let stand the September 2011 ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals holding that such laws are a facially unconstitutional restriction on free speech and are not narrowly tailored to serve a significant government interest. Redondo Beach was originally filed by MALDEF on behalf of NDLON.

“We have always known it is immoral to criminalize the act of seeking work, and it is now clear anti-day laborer ordinances are illegal too,” said Pablo Alvarado, National Coordinator for NDLON. “Day laborers are members of our communities, their work should be valued and appreciated, and above all, their Constitutional rights must be respected.”

MALDEF continues to fight similar restrictions on free speech in multiple states across the U.S.