Judge orders city to delay enforcement of homeless feeding ban

Advocates serve food outside the Board of Health's public hearing on the ban.
RIKARD LARMA/METRO

A federal judge has ordered the city of Philadelphia to delay enforcement of a ban that would prohibit feeding the homeless in city parkland.

In a preliminary ruling, U.S. District Court Judge William Yohn said the city had no legitimate reasons for moving the feeding from the Benjamin Franklin Parkway to an alternative site on the City Hall apron, which he deemed “an inappropriate option.”

The order means that groups can continue providing meals to the hungry on Benjamin Franklin Parkway for the time being. Yohn said he will issue formal findings and a conclusion at a later time, which could either postpone the ban temporarily or uphold it.

“I may change my mind after I look at the cases,” he cautioned.

The ban, which Mayor Michael Nutter announced in March, took effect June 1, but was challenged by four religious groups who have provided meals on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway for at least a decade because they claimed the measure would infringe on their Constitutional right to exercise freedom of religion.

Members of the groups and their supporters hugged and clapped following Yohn’s decision.

“We’re hopeful that homeless people and that those who feed and try to serve others, we hope that these issues will ultimately prevail,” said City Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, who was present for much of the three-day hearing.

Yohn heard testimony from several witnesses, including the plaintiffs, the city’s top homeless advocate Sister Mary Scullion and Nutter.

The city argued that the ban was Constitutional because it did not violate the plaintiffs’ free speech rights and that it affected religious and non-religious groups alike.

The matter could still ultimately go to trial next year, but an attorney representing the plaintiffs indicated the sides would likely sit down and come up with a long-term solution.

“I think a resolution is not only possible, but desirable. There is no reason for this to be adversarial,” said Paul Messing, of civil rights firm Kairys, Rudovsky, Messing and Feinberg.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.

International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

National

OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…

Local

MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

MLB

Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

Travel

Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.

Education

Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…

Education

NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.

Tech

The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.