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
National

New statue of Penn State's Paterno set for…

By David DeKokHARRISBURG, Pennsylvania (Reuters) - Fundraising for a new statue depicting Joe Paterno "as the man he was and not Joe the football coach"…

National

On newly released tape, 'Squeaky' Fromme says was…

Manson Family member Squeaky Fromme told a mental health examiner in newly released interview the "X" she carved in her forehead was meant to separate her from "the system."

Local

New York-based Century 21 store coming to The…

The former Strawbridge & Clothier building will once again host a department store. City officials on Thursday announced New York-based Century 21 Department Stores will…

National

Electric Zoo tickets on sale Tuesday as festival…

Electric Zoo tickets go on sale Tuesday. The festival announced plans to amp up security after two attendees died last year from apparent drug overdoses.

Music

Championship of Collegiate a Cappella: Students who are…

Tickets to this Saturday’s International Championship of Collegiate a Cappella reportedly sold out within 11 hours of going on sale.

Music

M.I.A. talks 'Matangi,' divinity, spontaneity and holograms

"There’s pressure for me to become a theatrical production like 'Glee,' or something" says M.I.A., "It’s like, 'the pressure’s on, bitches.'"

Movies

Tribeca: 'Goodbye to All That' star Paul Schneider…

Paul Schneider talks about his new film "Goodbye to All That," not acting too much and how he'd rather indulge in simple pleasures than play the scene.

The Word

Taylor Swift battles paparazzi daily at Tribeca penthouse

We're entranced by these photos of poor Taylor Swift leaving her Tribeca apartment.

NBA

Jason Collins named to Time's 100 Most Influential…

Jason Collins was named to the list after coming out as the first openly gay player to appear in an NBA game.

MLB

The return of Cole Hamels brings optimism

Cole Hamels’ quality start Wednesday was a nice change of pace from his recent season debuts.

MLB

Tony Gwynn Jr. a nice surprise for Phillies

Tony Gwynn Jr. has been a plus in every way for the Phillies.

NFL

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24…

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24 version

Food

Hai Street Kitchen opening in Rittenhouse May 22

Japanese cuisine will get a Chipotle-style twist at Hai Street Kitchen & Co., a new casual, quick-food restaurant opening near Rittenhouse Square on May 22.…

Parenting

New study: Inside the wage gap between boys…

According to a new study, there's a wage gap between boys and girls, with boys earning more allowance for less chores.

Tech

From Apple TV to Fire TV, big changes…

Apple is set to launch a new generation of it's Apple TV, which grossed over $1 billion in 2013. But competition from Amazon and Google looms.

Style

Katy Perry releases a new Claire’s collection

Katy Perry expands her empire by releasing an accessories collection at Claire's.