The U.S. District Court of Arizona on Friday blocked Cave Creek from enforcing an ordinance intended to prevent day laborers from soliciting work.
Attorneys for three men who brought the action argued that the ordinance infringed on their rights to free speech by prohibiting them from standing on roadsides where they might attract temporary employment from people in passing vehicles.
Neither the lawyers who handled the case for the town nor Cave Creek Mayor Vincent Francia could be reached for comment Friday. Vice Mayor Gilbert Lopez said he had not seen the ruling and declined to comment.
The ordinance had been in effect for only eight months before U.S. District Judge Roslyn Silver granted a preliminary injunction to block its enforcement in June.
The town later agreed to not enforce the ordinance in an effort to end the litigation, a move Silver affirmed Friday.
"The message is that laws like this - anti-solicitation ordinances that restrict people's free-speech rights - are not OK," said Kristina Campbell, a staff attorney for Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which joined the American Civil Liberties Union to fight the measure. "They may feel good, they may be popular with constituents, but the courts have consistently held that these types of laws don't hold up under First Amendment analysis."
The order ensures that day laborers will be able to express their availability to work by standing in public areas, according to the MALDEF and ACLU attorneys.
The ordinance prohibited solicitation of employment, business or contributions from the occupants of vehicles by people who stand on or next to streets or highways. It also barred solicitation from occupants in vehicles that are lawfully parked in public areas.
Similar ordinances have been passed in other Valley cities, including Mesa, Chandler and Phoenix.
Ordinances such as the one enacted by Cave Creek clearly are intended to target illegal immigrants, Campbell said.
"The U.S. Constitution doesn't guarantee free speech only to U.S. citizens," she said. "The U.S. Constitution guarantees rights to all persons. Just because somebody has an unpopular message or someone is imputing to a person an immigration status, whether or not they know their immigration status, doesn't mean you can exercise a prior restraint on their speech."