In May 2012, the City of Corona, California adopted an ordinance that banned clothing donation bins from the city. While donation bins were banned, other unattended containers such as dumpsters and recycling bins were not banned. Dalton & Tomich brought suit challenging the ordinance on behalf of Planet Aid, a nonprofit corporation that maintains clothing donation bins around the country.
The suit brought against Corona was based primarily on the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech. Specifically, Dalton & Tomich argued that a complete ban of donation bins was a content-based restriction of speech. The speech at issue was the donation bins themselves. The Supreme Court has ruled that solicitations for charitable donations are protected speech. And the Fifth and Sixth Circuits have both found that an appeal for charitable donations made by an unattended receptacle is also free speech.
Dalton and Tomich argued that the ordinance was content-based since the ordinance required an enforcement officer to evaluate the content on an unattended receptacle to determine whether or not the receptacle was banned by the ordinance. Content-based ordinances are subject to strict scrutiny. Under strict scrutiny, an ordinance must be the least restrictive means of furthering a compelling government interest. Dalton and Tomich argued that there were certainly less restrictive means available to the city to address its concerns than a total ban of donation bins.
After Dalton and Tomich filed suit in the federal district court in the Central District of California, the parties were able to negotiate a settlement favorable to Planet Aid and fair to the city. Corona approved a constitutionally acceptable ordinance regulating instead of banning clothing donation bins, and reimbursed Planet Aid for a portion of its attorney fees.
The attorneys of Dalton & Tomich, PLC have the experience and the knowledge to work with you to develop a legal solution that helps accomplish your goals. Our collaborative approach has helped leaders like you grow businesses and banks, develop and expand churches, and build nonprofit organizations nationwide.
In my role as Administrative Bishop for the Church of God, quite often we are faced with issues that involve local governments and municipalities. Many of these issues that arise in dealing with entities are land use related. I have found Dalton & Tomich’s experience and expertise in this area to be a valuable resource and asset in every situation.
Never one time during a year-long litigation process did Dalton & Tomich demonstrate anything other than Christ-like professionalism. They managed the legal details, while we continued to do church. How they managed themselves, managed our case, and represented our church set the table for me and our church to be where we are today.
Dalton & Tomich’s expertise and experience helped us through a very difficult legal journey, ultimately achieving a favorable outcome. Their personal interest in helping us went “above and beyond” just the call of duty.