Wyoming Liberty Group
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.
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.
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.
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.