UPDATED: Federal lawsuit filed over Campbell sign ordinance - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

UPDATED: Federal lawsuit filed over Campbell sign ordinance

Posted:
Protesters on the I-90 pedestrian overpass in August, 2013 Protesters on the I-90 pedestrian overpass in August, 2013

UPDATE: LA CROSSE,Wis. (WXOW) - The Town of Campbell is facing a lawsuit over an ordinance that bans signs and banners from the pedestrian interstate overpass.

The ordinance passed in October, citing safety concerns with signs distracting drivers.

The suit was filed by La Crosse residents Gregory Luce and Nicholas Newman, in federal court in Madison on Friday.

The suit comes from protesters used the bridge to wave American flags and hang 'impeach Obama' signs, as part of a national protest called overpasses to impeach Obama.

The lawsuit argues the ordinance violates freedom of speech and the right to peaceably assemble.

"The merit behind the suit is that there's only so many public forums where people can go and demonstrate and exercise their first amendment rights," said Bernardo Cueto, the attorney for the plaintiffs. "And so the Town of Campbell, what they effectively did is pass an ordinance removing that public forum from this country."

The attorney for the Town of Campbell, Brent Smith, says the ordinance was passed for safety reasons.

"The first amendment, in these type of cases, it's a balance between the first amendment versus a safety concern," Smith said. "And sometimes the first amendment has to be balanced against others and this is one of those cases. And in 99.9 percent of places in the Town of Campbell this type of activity is ok."

Smith said a similar suit was filed in Madison regarding protesters on overpasses and police. The principles of the ordinance, said Smith, were supported by the court decision.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

LA CROSSE,Wis. (WXOW) - Two men file a federal lawsuit challenging a Town of Campbell ordinance that bans signs and banners from an interstate overpass.

The suit, which can be read here, was filed by La Crosse residents Gregory Luce and Nicholas Newman, in federal court in Madison on Friday.

It is in response to an ordinance passed by the Town of Campbell last October that prohibits the displaying of signs, banners, and flags within 100 feet of the pedestrian overpass across I-90 which splits the township. The reason given by the board for the ordinance was to avoid distracting drivers along the highway.

Protesters used the overpass to state their disagreement with President Obama's policies as part of a national protest called Overpasses for Obama's Impeachment.

The suit argues two points.  One, that the men's right to freedom of speech was violated by not allowing them to exercise their rights in a "traditional public forum".  The second point alleges Luce's right to peaceable assembly. The suit states that while Luce has wanted to use the overpass to share his views with the public, fear of arrest has kept him from participating in such assemblies.

Luce and Newman ultimately want a judge to strike down the ordinance.

WXOW will have more on this developing story online at WXOW.com and in Live at Five, and our 6pm and 10pm Reports.




Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WXOW. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, Terms of Service and Mobile Privacy Policy & Terms of Service.

Persons with disabilities who need assistance with issues relating to the content of this station's public inspection file should contact Administrative Assistant Theresa Wopat at 507-895-9969. Questions or concerns relating to the accessibility of the FCC's online public file system should be directed to the FCC at 888-225-5322, at 888-835-5322 (TTY) or at fccinfo@fcc.gov.