Texas Justice Update

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A few years ago the state of Texas forced Pat Barber to remove a billboard on his property that told motorists to "Just Say No to Searches." As Reason reported, the Texas lawyer erected the billboard because he was fed up with excessive police searches on the Interstate.

Last week the Texas Supreme Court ruled against Barber, finding that his right to free speech was not infringed. His lawyer wants to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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  1. Interstate Billboards are sometimes too “In-Your-Face.” Ask United Colors of Beneton (or however you spell their name.) They learned the hard way.

  2. >>The court is saying that political speech is not entitled to any greater protection than a McDonald’s sign.

    No. The court is saying that reasonable time, place and manner restrictions on speech are generally enforceable if the restrictions are content-neutral. (For example, the law regarding billboards at issue here.)

    The courts have held that political speech is different from commercial speech in that restrictions that are *not* content-neutral are sometimes enforceable against commercial speech. (For example, laws regulating the content of advertising are not content-neutral, and yet are sometimes enforceable.)

    That is not true of political speech: even the very weak regulations on certain forms of political advertising (e.g., identification of donor: “This ad paid for by Bob for Congress”) are strictly reviewed and are still controversial.

    >>Aren’t campaign signs exempt from sign ordinances?

    No.

  3. I am not a constitutional scholar, nor do I desire to be one, however, this just sucks. Obviously under our current system the constitution is whatever the justices say it is, but regardless of what they may rule, I see no rationale at all for this.

  4. Come on, we can’t have someone putting up a billboard wherever some petty constitutional right is being violated!

    The state of Texas has a powerful homeowners association…

  5. The fact that the law is “content neutral” is exactly the problem. The court is saying that political speech is not entitled to any greater protection than a McDonald’s sign. Aren’t campaign signs exempt from sign ordinances?

  6. so it goes when you piss on the first ammendment (see Nike case)

  7. There’s a criminal defense attorney in Pittsburgh who has an office in what used to be an old corner newstand a few blocks from the County Court House. In addition to a rather striking black and white checkboard tile exterior, he has a large neon sign in the window that reads, “ANY REASONABLE DOUBT.” The city has been trying to get him to remove it for years, and as far as I know, still remains unsuccessful.

    Not exactly the same thing, but this story reminded me of it.

  8. Interesting story, hopefully this will be overturned by the SC some day.

    Billboard censorship seem too common in many states.

  9. Sky writers rejoice! Our time is nigh.

  10. (That pilot’s rallying cry was mine.)

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