Earlier this fall, a federal district court in California entered an order dismissing a challenge to election sign regulations promulgated by the City of Coalinga, California.  Coalinga had a sign regulation that prohibited the display of election signs more than 60 days prior to and more than seven days after an election.  June Vera Sanchez and the Dolores Huerta Foundation sought to display political messages outside of the election season, and challenged the regulation on First Amendment grounds in an action filed in June 2018.  Following the filing of the lawsuit, in July 2018, the city amended its regulations to withdraw the challenged election sign regulation.  In August 2018, the city filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the plaintiffs lacked standing to bring their claim and that the action was moot.
Continue Reading

An inflatable rat in Grand Chute, Wisconsin.
An inflatable rat in Grand Chute, Wisconsin.

In 2014, a labor union decided to protest the practices of an employer in Grand Chute, Wisconsin by placing large inflatables in public right-of-ways.  These inflatables included a giant rat and a large cat wearing a suit and strangling a worker.  Grand Chute’s sign code prohibited the placement of private signs in the right-of-way.  After the town government took enforcement action against the union, a federal district court denied the union’s request for a preliminary injunction and granted summary judgment in favor of the town.

On appeal from the summary judgment order, however, Judge Easterbrook, writing for the panel, questioned whether the case involved a live controversy. 
Continue Reading

Paula Soto speaking before the Cambridge City Council. Source: Cambridge Day.

This post was authored by Otten Johnson summer law clerk Alex Gano.  Alex is a rising third-year law student at the University of Colorado Law School.

Last week, a federal magistrate judge in Boston denied a plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment against the City of Cambridge, Massachusetts, in a case involving a municipal ordinance and state law that (might) prohibit non-commercial leafletting of parked cars. The court held that the plaintiff’s case against the City was moot because the City had recently amended its ordinance to allow non-commercial leafletting on private property.  The court also considered and rejected the City’s motion to join the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to the case citing the Eleventh Amendment.  The order in Soto v. City of Cambridge acknowledges a circuit split over the constitutionality of laws banning non-commercial leafletting, but the court ultimately declined to weigh in on the controversy.
Continue Reading