Free speech rights of panhandlers argued in Kentucky court

A Kentucky man's conviction for violating a city's ban on begging has reached the state Supreme Court.

Police cited Dennis Champion, who was holding a homemade sign asking for money, for violating Lexington's panhandling ordinance during the holiday season in 2014.

Justices heard arguments in the case Friday.

Linda Horsman of the Department of Public Advocacy says the ordinance singles out panhandling but allows other groups to ask for money.

Assistant Fayette County Attorney Jason Rothrock said the ordinance aims to protect the safety of motorists and panhandlers and ensure the efficient flow of traffic.

Maria Foscarinis, executive director of the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, says similar bans on begging have resulted in federal courts striking down ordinances.