Authorities were blocked this week from finally being able to enforce a 13-year-old city ordinance that bans solicitors from seeking donations at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), officials said Friday.
An attorney for the International Society for Krishna Consciousness is asking the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider a ruling issued earlier this month that would have allowed Los Angeles to prevent panhandlers from asking for cash on airport property.
As a result, the city ordinance cannot be enforced until the federal appeals court decides whether the Krishna's plea should be considered.
"We're disappointed with this latest delay and we hope that the panel's deliberation is resolved soon," said Michael Molina, deputy executive director of external affairs at LAX.
"Our goal has always been about a positive passenger experience," Molina said.
The federal appeals court ruled July 7 that city officials could enforce a 1997 city ordinance that bans Hare Krishna representatives and other solicitors from asking for donations from travelers walking through airport terminals, parking areas and along adjacent sidewalks.
Almost immediately afterward, the solicitors stopped gathering outside the arrivals areas of LAX's bustling terminals.
But the donation seekers re-emerged last week after word got out that the Hare Krishna's attorney had filed a petition for rehearing with the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
"If the appeals court denies us, we are prepared to take this all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court," said David Liberman, a Los Angeles attorney who represents the Hare Krishnas.
"We're not going to roll over and let the bus drive over us," Liberman said. "We might go down, but we're going to go down with a big fight."
Shortly after the Los Angeles City Council adopted its 1997 ban on solicitors at LAX, the Hare Krishnas filed a federal lawsuit arguing that the city ordinance impeded on the group's right to free speech.
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