Wisconsin Town Passes Anti-Free Speech Ordinance

Thomas More Law Center his suing the town for violating the he protesters first Amendment Rights.

According to the Associated Press, the protests began in August, people would stand on the Route 90 overpass in Campbell, Wisconsin holding signs asking drivers to honk if they believe Obama should be impeached.

That was followed by town officials complaining they've received calls about the noise and the size of the crowd on the bridge. So the town passed an ordnance in October prohibiting the display of signs, flags, banners and other items within 100 feet of the bridge. Acting on behalf of the protesters, The Thomas More Law Center his suing the town for violating the protesters' first Amendment Rights. 

The Thomas More Law Center (TMLC) claims the reason for the town law was not the crowd or the noise but the message associated with the protest:

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin on behalf of La Crosse residents Gregory Luce and Nicholas Newman against the Town of Campbell, its police chief, and one of his officers. Luce and Newman were participating in a nationwide movement called “Overpasses for America.”

Erin Mersino, a TMLC attorney handling the case, said, “Viewpoint discrimination is one of the most harmful threats to our freedom of speech.  The answer to contempt of a certain viewpoint is not to silence that viewpoint, but to invite more speech and create a discourse.  That is one of the most fundamental tenets of our Republic.  The ordinance at issue turns the public sidewalk on the overpass, which is otherwise open to the public into a dead speech zone.”

 The lawsuit claims that the Plaintiffs’ constitutional rights to freedom of speech and peaceful assembly have been violated and that the Ordinance is unconstitutional on its face and as applied by the police. Because the Plaintiffs wish to continue their constitutionally protected speech, they asked the Court to enter a Preliminary Injunction banning further enforcement of the ordinance during the pendency of the lawsuit.