CHARLOTTSVILLE, Va. (AP) – A federal appeals court has reinstated a lawsuit filed by five homeless men who challenged Charlottesville’s panhandling ordinance.

A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled Thursday that a judge should not have tossed out the lawsuit without hearing evidence.

U.S. District Judge Norman Moon last year rejected a claim that the city ordinance banning panhandling in certain areas on the Downtown Mall violates the plaintiffs’ rights to free speech. The city enacted the ordinance to shield customers at outdoor cafes from aggressive panhandlers.

The appeals court said it’s plausible that the purpose of the ordinance was to prevent the homeless men from conveying an unwanted, but constitutionally protected, message.