This blog post was authored by Alexandra Haggarty, a summer clerk with Otten Johnson. Alex is a rising 3L at the University of Colorado Law School.
A federal judge in North Dakota recently granted a temporary restraining order to enjoin the City of Mandan from enforcing a content-based ordinance regulating murals and signs.
The ordinance requires building owners to obtain a permit before displaying a sign or figurative wall mural. A commission reviewing applications makes decisions based on guidelines and regulations, including those prohibiting murals that are commercial, have words as a dominant feature of the art, have political messages, or are on the front of the building.
The Lonesome Dove, a saloon that’s been a fixture on a main road for twenty-eight years, had until recently only decorated its exterior with beer ads. Most recently, it had a Coors Light logo painted on the front wall. Although the saloon never sought a permit for the logo, it was never cited for violation. Seeking to reinvigorate its exterior, the saloon – not knowing it needed a permit – painted a 208 square-foot Western-themed “Lonesome Dove” mural on the front of the building in 2018.