Every year, more cities enact food sharing restrictions that punish individuals who try to feed the homeless. These laws are often part of a general scheme to solve a city’s homelessness problem by making life so unbearable for homeless men and women that they will be forced to move elsewhere. Humanitarian aid like food sharing, however, is a form of expressive conduct whereby the speaker communicates to a particular audience in need that he or she is willing to care for them. Additionally, the speaker’s conduct may inform observers about a particular humanitarian dilemma or encourage them to become involved. In United States v. Millis, the Ninth Circuit failed to recognize an act of humanitarian aid for traveling immigrants as a form of protected speech, thereby opening the door to the creation of more harmful and unfair laws that suppress humanitarian aid.
Matthew M. Cummings,
The Continued Illegalization of Compassion: United States v. Millis and its Effects on Humanitarian Work with the Homeless,
B.C. Third World L.J.