Joseph Mead

Document Type



The First Amendment severely disfavors content-based restrictions on speech in public areas. In its 2015 decision in Reed v. Town of Gilbert, the Supreme Court clarified the test for determining whether a speech restriction is content-based, ratcheting up the number of laws subject to strict scrutiny. While this decision has been criticized by some, I argue that, at least in the context of anti-panhandling legislation, Reed was a needed answer to local governments passing overly broad restrictions motivated by a desire to drive an unpopular type of speech from the city square. I use anti-panhandling ordinances from three local jurisdictions—the City Akron, the City of Fairlawn, and Summit County—as case studies in content-neutrality before and after Reed.