In Central Radio, Inc. v. City of Norfolk, a case that was caught up in the maelstrom surrounding the Supreme Court’s decision in Reed, the Fourth Circuit reversed its previous decision upholding the Norfolk, Virginia sign code, finding that the code contained content based restrictions on speech. In this case, which we reported on previously, the Supreme Court granted the plaintiff’s petition for certiorari, vacated the Fourth Circuit’s opinion, and remanded the case to the Fourth Circuit for reconsideration in light of Reed. In reconsidering the case, the appellate court determined that, because the Norfolk sign code exempted governmental or religious flags and emblems while requiring permits for private and secular flags and emblems, and because the code contained an exemption for artwork that did not identify a product or service, the code was content based. The court went on to find that the city’s asserted interests in traffic safety and aesthetic beautification were not compelling interests and that the code was not narrowly tailored, thus failing strict scrutiny. More news on the case can be found here.
During the pendency of the case, Norfolk updated its sign code to comport with the holding of Reed. The Fourth Circuit found that the case was not moot, yet the court did not weigh in on the constitutionality of the new code.
Cent. Radio, Inc. v. City of Norfolk, ___ F.3d ___, 2016 WL 360775