Wyoming Liberty Group
So begins a friend-of-the-court (amici) brief from our friends at the Cato Institute and P.J. O’Rourke—“America’s leading political satirist”—in the case Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus, which is pending at the United States Supreme Court. The case is a challenge to an Ohio law that punishes false campaign speech, and the brief hilariously illustrates the pitfalls of such laws. Specifically, the brief utilizes O’Rourke’s legendary wit to show how easily political satire can be censored under the threat of a bureaucrat labeling it “false” speech:
Last Friday was the final day for first reading of bills in their house of origin in the 2014 Wyoming Budget Session. Due to the priority of budget amendments, even extended hours could not provide the time needed to consider first reading of every bill that survived introduction and came out of committee. This spelled death for dozens of bills. In some cases this was a welcome development: I incorrectly predicted that an attempt to restrict the use of a “wearable computer with head mounted display” (i.e., Google Glass) while driving would not survive introduction, but Senate File 35 made it all the way to General File before its demise thanks to the first reading cutoff.
Yesterday, the Cheyenne City Council voted to amend the Cheyenne Unified Development Code to conform to the preliminary injunction we secured against the city in our case Williams v. Cheyenne last week.
What does that mean? The Wyoming Tribune Eagle sums it up nicely:
UPDATE (3:30 PM): We have received word that Judge Skavdahl has considered and signed the proposed order. Effective immediately, “Defendant City of Cheyenne is enjoined from enforcing the provisions of Article 6.5 and Section 1.3.3 of the Cheyenne Unified Development Code, as those provisions pertain to signs relating to a candidate, issue, proposition, ordinance or other matter to be voted upon by the electors of the city or as those provisions pertain to signs conveying a philosophical, religious, political, charitable or other similar noncommercial message within the City of Cheyenne.”
You may have heard recently about a lawsuit brought by Cheyenne resident Ron Williams against the city for limiting the number of political signs he can put on his lawn and setting a timeframe within which he can display those signs. You might also think “what’s the big deal?” Indeed, I’ve heard from a few fellow residents that political signs aren’t important enough to sue over, that neighborhood aesthetics are more important than political signs, and that there are other ways for Ron to speak out. As one of Williams’s attorneys in the case, allow me to answer these criticisms.
CHEYENNE – Wyoming Liberty Group attorneys filed a motion for preliminary injunction in the federal district court in Cheyenne today, seeking immediate relief for Ron Williams in his case against the City of Cheyenne over political sign restrictions.
“If the court grants a preliminary injunction, it would prevent the City of Cheyenne from enforcing the unconstitutional time and quantity sign restrictions in the Unified Development Code until the case is resolved,” said Boyd Wiggam, counsel to Williams. “Williams’s case is very likely to succeed, so we believe this injunction is warranted.”
One of the few things Congress got right when it passed the Federal Election Campaign Act – thereby creating the Federal Election Commission (FEC) – was appointing an equal number of commissioners from both major political parties atop the agency. No matter what the agency’s bureaucrats want to do, they must usually answer to these political appointees. If a majority vote of four out of six commissioners cannot be achieved (that is, a passing vote with at least one vote from a commissioner of a different party), then the agency cannot act.