Wyoming Liberty Group
This month marks the fourth anniversary of Citizens United v. FEC. It also marks the filing of our motion for preliminary injunctive relief in our lawsuit against Cheyenne. While the dots may be hard to connect, there is a good deal of overlap between both cases and the import of the First Amendment.
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.
If a Cheyenne resident displays a political sign on his lawn today, months before the next election, he risks a misdemeanor charge and $100 fine. Even during the allowed timeframe, if his lot is less than one acre and he places more than two political signs, this violation might also bring the same charge. Such is the censorship provided in the Cheyenne Unified Development Code (UDC), local law overseen by the Cheyenne City Council. This unconstitutional ordinance cannot stand, and yesterday we filed a lawsuit against the city to overturn it.
CHEYENNE – Wyoming Liberty Group attorneys sued the City of Cheyenne on behalf of resident Ronald Williams in the United States District Court for the District of Wyoming today, challenging provisions of the Cheyenne Unified Development Code (UDC) that restrict political signs on private property as an unconstitutional abridgement of free speech.
CHEYENNE – Wyoming Liberty Group attorneys filed a petition with the United States Supreme Court today, requesting the Court hear an appeal of the case Free Speech v. Federal Election Commission (FEC). Free Speech, a small grassroots group of three Wyomingites, sued the FEC in 2012 for maintaining vague and overbroad regulations that prevent political engagement. The case was dismissed by the Wyoming Federal District Court and the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed its ruling.
by Boyd Wiggam, Tim Kingston
The Cheyenne City Council is expected soon to vote on an ordinance that will amend the Unified Development Code to make special provisions for election and ideological signs.
This is necessary because the current rules governing signs do not comply with the First Amendment’s Free Speech guarantee.
Councilman Dicky Shanor’s arguments in the most recent City Council meeting most accurately stated how the Constitution protects election or ideological signs more than commercial signs.