HONOLULU — The T-shirt-laden tables that once cluttered Waikiki are now gone, after a federal appeals court upheld the city's efforts to sweep peddlers off the sidewalks of this tourist mecca.
Nonprofit groups had argued that selling T-shirts was a form of free speech protected by the First Amendment. For $20, tourists could scoop up five T-shirts, bearing messages such as, "Take It Easy, Meditate, Hang Loose Hawaii." But city officials were appalled by the flea-market atmosphere, and local merchants groused about unfair competition from the tax-free, rent-free vendors. In a 2-to-1 ruling last month, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the city, upholding an ordinance banning peddling on the streets of Waikiki.