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The city’s welfare agency can legally bar advocates from its waiting rooms, the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled this week. The case was originally brought against the Human Resources Administration by the nonprofit group Make the Road by Walking in 1998, when the city began enforcing a decades-old policy that allows access only to those on official business. Make the Road challenged the policy on the grounds that it violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments, which encompass due process and equal protection. But the court found that the Human Resources Administration had a “legitimate goal” of “limiting disruption” in its service centers. Andrew Friedman, co-founder of Make the Road, was disappointed by the ruling and what it means for recipients. “It’s really the dysfunctional centers, where recipients are routinely yelled at and misinformed and kept waiting, that want to keep us locked out,” he said. While the group has no plans to appeal, it is now contemplating city council legislation as a way to gain access. [08/16/04]

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