This post was originally authored by Evan Seeman and Karla Chafee of Robinson + Cole, LLP.  Any views reflected in this post are the views of the original authors. 

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Thou shall have the right to an electronic sign?  Apparently not.  Just over a year ago, Hillside Baptist Church and Signs for Jesus (together, Plaintiffs or Church) filed a complaint in the District Court for New Hampshire, seeking a declaration that the Town of Pembroke’s (the Town) sign ordinance is unconstitutional both facially and as applied to the Plaintiffs.  The complaint alleged that the Town’s Ordinance banning the use of electronic signs in all but the Town’s commercial zoning district “restricts how the Church may proclaim a daily Biblical message while not restricting the medium of communicating state, municipal or school messages.”  Our post regarding the complaint is available here.

The Plaintiffs claimed that the Town’s limitation on electronic signs in all zones but the commercial zone, and the Town’s denial of the Church’s sign application violated its rights to Free Speech, Free Exercise of Religion, and Equal Protection, as well as RLUIPA’s substantial burden and equal terms provisions.
Continue Reading RLUIPA Defense: Signs 4 JC Shown the Light by NH District Court

Earlier this month, the First Circuit Court of Appeals held that a group of abortion protesters did not have standing to challenge a New Hampshire buffer zone law.  The First Circuit’s decision affirmed a decision by the federal district court, which we reported on last summer.

The law in question prohibited protesters from entering

Last month, a federal court held that a billboard company’s motion to revise the court’s earlier denial of summary judgment to a Pennsylvania township’s sign regulations was not ripe.

The billboard company, Nittany Outdoor Advertising, LLC, desired to post messages written by a non-profit organization, Stephanas Ministries, on billboards in College Township, Pennsylvania.  The township

Pictured above is Silk, a club owned by one of the plaintiffs in the case. Source: onmilwaukee.com

Before 2012, the City of Milwaukee, Wisconsin required strip clubs to obtain one of three business licenses: if the club included both alcohol and nudity, the club would require both a liquor license and a “tavern-amusement license”; a dry strip club required either a “theater license” or a “public-entertainment club license.”
Continue Reading $435,000 Damage Award to Milwaukee Strip Club Upheld

Last week, in a case we previously covered here, a federal district court in Colorado considered whether plaintiffs have standing to seek permanent injunctive relief when the defendant has stipulated that it has no intention of enforcing a restriction on expressive conduct.

In Verlo v. City and County of Denver, plaintiffs desired to distribute leaflets regarding jury nullification in the plaza outside of Denver’s Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse.  However, the Colorado Second Judicial District, which operates in the courthouse, issued an order essentially prohibiting all expressive activities in the courthouse plaza.  The City and County of Denver, the entity responsible for enforcing the order, stipulated that it would not do so.  Furthermore, the city stipulated that it would not interfere with plaintiffs’ peaceful distribution of leaflets in the plaza.  Notwithstanding the stipulation, plaintiffs sued the city and the Colorado Second Judicial District, claiming that the order was an unconstitutional restriction on their First Amendment rights.  In an earlier decision, the federal district court granted plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary injunction, barring enforcement of the order.
Continue Reading Denver Courthouse Case Continued: Plaintiffs Lack Standing

Protesters outside a New Hampshire reproductive health clinic. Source: watchdog.org.

Last week, a federal district court judge in New Hampshire ruled that a group of protesters lacked standing to challenge a state law prohibiting them from entering within a 25-foot radius of the entrance to an abortion clinic. The law, which was similar to a Massachusetts law that the U.S. Supreme Court struck down in 2014, stated that “[n]o person shall knowingly enter or remain on a public way or sidewalk adjacent to a reproductive health care facility within a radius up to 25 feet of any portion of an entrance, exit, or driveway of a reproductive health care facility.”  The law also required clinics to “clearly demarcate” the buffer zone.
Continue Reading Abortion Protesters Lack Standing to Challenge New Hampshire Law

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The Hitching Post in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.  

In an opinion issued last week, a federal district court in Idaho found that a wedding services business, Hitching Post, which refused to officiate same-sex marriages on religious grounds, did not have standing to challenge an ordinance that prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
Continue Reading Wedding Business Loses First Amendment Challenge to Local Antidiscrimination Law

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Virginia exercises “editorial control” over the brochures placed in kiosks located in its welcome centers, like this one in the Town of Skippers, limiting content to advertisements and other speech relevant to highway safety and the traveling public.

In a recent case involving the State of Virginia’s authority to regulate the placement of informational brochures in its welcome centers and rest areas, an advertiser brought suit.
Continue Reading “Chilling Effect” Must Be Reasonable to Show Standing, plus an Expansion of the Government Speech Doctrine