Last year I wrote a short piece for Reason on a Missouri man’s mural protest against eminent domain abuse (seen here), and the state’s efforts to silence him by requiring him to get a sign permit, then rejecting his application. Some good news:
Roos and two entities that he controls sued the city, arguing that the sign was a political statement protected by the Constitution. Roos is also a spokesperson for the Missouri Eminent Domain Abuse Coalition (MEDAC).
U.S. District Judge Henry Autrey dismissed the case, saying the ordinance was content-neutral. The mural was a “classic example” of a sign, he said, as it was meant to attract attention to Roos’ cause and advertised two Web site addresses.
But a three judge panel of the 8th U.S. Court of Appeals disagreed Wednesday, saying that the zoning code used the content of a sign to determine if it was, in fact, a “sign” under the code.
A sign the same size as Roos’ “would not be subject to regulation if it were a “[n]ational, state, religious, fraternal, professional and civic symbol’” or showed the “time and subject matter of religious services,” the ruling says.
The code was also not supported by a compelling government interest, the judges ruled.
Congratulations to the Institute for Justice, who represented Roos in his appeal. Now we just need to get Roos to fix the sign so it doesn’t suggest that he’s advocating eminent domain abuse.