Orlando: Food Not Bombs loses Federal appeal

From the Christian Science Monitor:

A group of political activists in Orlando have lost their battle to establish that feeding the homeless is an act of political expression fully protected by the First Amendment.

In a decision announced Tuesday, a federal appeals court ruled against the group, Orlando Food Not Bombs, and gave a green light to city officials to enforce an ordinance restricting weekly feeding of the homeless in downtown parks.

“The city is in a far better position than this court to determine how best to manage the burden that large group feedings place on neighborhoods in the city,” Circuit Judge William Pryor wrote for the unanimous decision of the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta.

In a 15-page decision, the court said it was assuming, without deciding, that feeding the homeless in a public park was a form of expressive conduct entitled to some level of protection under the First Amendment.

But the court went on to decide that the city’s ordinance was a reasonable time, place, and manner restriction on the free speech rights of Orlando Food Not Bombs.

“The ordinance as applied to the feedings of homeless persons by Orlando Food Not Bombs does not violate the free speech clause of the First Amendment,” Pryor wrote.

The action reverses a federal judge’s injunction that had permanently blocked the city from enforcing an ordinance restricting the use of downtown parks for large-scale feedings.

Continue reading