Court Grants FJI Injunction Request in Columbia County

January 30, 2024

JACKSONVILLE, FLA.– In a resounding victory for all homeless advocates, U.S. District Judge Marcia Morales Howard has granted FJI’s request and entered a preliminary injunction enjoining enforcement of two Columbia County Ordinances that prohibited solicitation and loitering on all County property with a building on it. The Court found that the ordinances likely violated the First Amendment and were unconstitutionally vague in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. The injunction allows solicitors from The Homeless Voice newsletter to distribute copies of the paper and request donations on County property.

“We’re thrilled that these important First Amendment rights have been vindicated,” said Ray Taseff, lead attorney with FJI. “This decision reinforces that governments cannot restrict core speech activities on public property.”

The Homeless Voice is a newsletter operated by a nonprofit that seeks to spread awareness of issues affecting the homeless population. Its solicitors distribute the newspaper and simultaneously request donations, and did so peacefully outside the Columbia County Courthouse and Administration Buildings for a period of time. However, dissatisfied with their presence, the County passed two ordinances that prohibited Homeless Voice solicitors from soliciting or standing on public property without an apparent purpose.

The ordinances were so broad that they prohibited asking anyone for anything on County property with a building, or merely just being on that property without an apparent purpose. They would prohibit asking for money, votes, or directions, and also would prohibit sitting on a bench. In response, FJI filed a lawsuit on behalf of The Homeless Voice, seeking to end enforcement of the ordinances.

This lawsuit is part of FJI’s effort to end the criminalization of poverty in the state of Florida.

The case is Cosac Foundation v. Columbia County, Case No. 23-cv-01499 in the Middle District of Florida. For more information, contact Ray Taseff,, 305-586-4502.

Scroll to Top