A recent discovery dispute over Madison, Wisconsin’s revised sign codes recently provided a reminder regarding the evidence that is and isn’t relevant in a Free Speech challenge. And let’s not bury the lede: a legislator’s private motivations for amending the sign code, the court concluded, don’t matter.
Adams Outdoor Advertising, a billboard operator, brought a facial and as-applied First Amendment challenge to Madison’s sign code after the city’s 2017 overhaul severely restricted off-site advertising. The challenge itself is ongoing and Adams Outdoor contends that Reed v. Town of Gilbert’s test for content-based regulations—and not Central Hudson’s more permissive test for commercial speech regulations—should invalidate Madison’s new approach.
In the hopes of bolstering that contention, Adams Outdoor submitted discovery requests for information about the purpose of the 2017 amendment and, in particular, legislators’ personal motivations for adopting it. The city refused to provide the information, invoking legislative privilege, and the dispute eventually reached the court. Continue Reading No Discovery on Legislators’ Personal Motivations for Sign Code Overhaul, says District Judge