A Penny for Your Thoughts: Free Speech and Paying Fines with Coins

14 Pages Posted: 15 Sep 2017  

Peter C. Alexander

UALR-Bowen School of Law; UNT-Dallas College of Law

Date Written: September 12, 2017


In October, 2016, the city of Springfield, Illinois encroached on the First Amendment rights of its citizens and hardly anyone noticed! The City Council approved an ordinance that significantly limits the payment of debts owed to the city with coins. Specifically, the new law provides that “Cash payments [to the City] may be limited to no more than $20 in coinage of which not more than $5 may be in pennies. Overpayments will be applied to any existing debt if applicable.” Municipalities may be inconvenienced when citizens use coins to pay their fines or taxes, but legislation to prevent citizens from doing so runs afoul of the U.S. Constitution. This essay is a reminder of how easily First Amendment rights can be forgotten.

Keywords: free speech, protest, First Amendment, municipality

Suggested Citation

Alexander, Peter C., A Penny for Your Thoughts: Free Speech and Paying Fines with Coins (September 12, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3036079 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3036079

Peter C. Alexander (Contact Author)

UALR-Bowen School of Law ( email )

1201 McMath Street
Little Rock, AR 72202
United States
501-324-9965 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://ualr.edu/law/

UNT-Dallas College of Law ( email )

7300 University Hills Blvd.
Dallas, TX 75241
United States
214-752-8649 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://https://lawschool.untdallas.edu/

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