There is an interesting constitutional fight brewing in Florida. I have a column out today on the “Let’s Go, Brandon” movement. Marvin Peavy is part of that movement and displayed a banner with the chant (with a pro Trump banner) from his home in Seagrove Beach, Florida. He is now facing a $50 a day fine for violating an ordinance against such banners. He has pledged to continue to fight the enforcement. The question is whether the ordinance is constitutional.
Hanging from Peavy’s home is a banner proclaiming “Trump Won” and another proclaiming “Let’s Go Brandon.” The latter chant is a euphemism for “F— Joe Biden.”
The code states that following signs are “the prohibited in the Route 30-A Scenic Corridor”:
B. Prohibited signs. In addition to the signs prohibited in Section 6.03.00, the following signs
shall be prohibited in the Route 30-A Scenic Corridor:
1. Permanent off-premise outdoor advertising signs (an off-premise sign is any sign
located on property other than that to which the sign relates);
2. Pole signs;
3. Water towers as commercial advertising;
4. Wall murals as commercial advertising;
5. Off-premise signs;
6. Temporary mobile or portable signs;
7. Interior lit single panel plastic or Lexan face;
8. Streamers, feather flags, pennants, ribbons, spinners and other similar devices;
9. Flashing signs;
10. Signs containing reflective elements that sparkle or twinkle in the sunlight;
11. Roof signs;
12. Signs containing moving parts.
The law is notably neutral on content. That is a key distinction given prior Supreme Court rulings like Reed v Town of Gilbert. In that case, the court ruled unanimously that an Arizona ordinance was unconstitutional. Under the ordinance, “ideological signs” and “political signs” were subject to different limitations.
Writing for the Court in Reed, Justice Clarence Thomas stressed that “[g]overnment regulation of speech is content based if a law applies to particular speech because of the topic discussed or the idea or message expressed.”
The content-based regulation triggered “strict scrutiny” analysis requiring that the government must demonstrate that the law has been “narrowly tailored” to serve a “compelling interest.”
Here all signs are limited or banned in this area regardless of their message. What remains, however, is the denial of homeowners to be able to speak politically through signage on their own homes. The city would argue that they can still speak in other ways. Moreover, there is a general exemption in the ordinance for
“Temporary signs for political candidacy, nonprofit organizations, religious institutions and other signs conveying a non-commercial message for a one-time event provided that such signs are removed within 15 days following the campaign, drive, or event.”
Again, there is no content regulation here and political signs are allowed during campaign seasons.
But how about those who want to express political views between elections? Such sentiments are supporting ongoing movements, including “Let’s Go Brandon” which is a criticism of media bias. This is an aesthetic regulation that negates forms of political expression. While the odds may be against Peavy, he may force a reconsideration of such speech rights.
81 thoughts on “Florida Homeowner Fined For Displaying “Let’s Go Brandon” and Pro-Trump Banners on Home”
Okay, you say, “Hanging from Peavy’s home is a banner proclaiming “Trump Won” and another proclaiming “Let’s Go Brandon.”’
You then go on to suggest the code that is applicable regulates “signs” and quote it:
“B. Prohibited signs. In addition to the signs prohibited in Section 6.03.00, the following signs”
You then highlight subsection 8:
“8. Streamers, feather flags, pennants, ribbons, spinners and other similar devices;”
However, 8, nor any other provision mentions “banner” which is a synonym of “flag.” 8 does reference “feather flags” but they are distinct and different from the traditional/ common usage of the term “flag.”
Could he not have a valid claim that the “code” that is being used to quell his speech doesn’t actually cover the type of banner/flag displayed from his home? Nothing is the code you provided seems to regulate the usage of flags (ordinary usage of the word). In fact, it would seem that the way you are interpreting the code would mean that a person couldn’t hand the Stars and Stripes from one’s home and I definitely don’t see how that interpretation could be applied from the code AS WRITTEN.
Put up a sign at city hall restroom wall. “Eat itShay Mayor!”
“The law is notably neutral on content.” Of course, it is neutral on content otherwise it would be in violation of the peoples First Amendment rights! So how do you shut people up and stop them from exercising their freedom of expression on and inside their own property and yet allow an open sign or a garage sale sign?
Simple, become creative and pass laws that prohibits nearly every means to display your message.
And yes, inside your own home such as if you have a mannequin standing in front of the picture window inside your home wearing a T-shirt that reads “LETS GO BRANDON” you should not be breaking any laws. What if at night you add a nonplusing light? Would you be in violation of the law?
Or how about on your picture window curtains when closed it reads F-Biden and you could see it from the roadway during the day and at night? What about a lawn table and chair in the yard the reads “F-Biden and LET’S GO BRANDON,” would you be in violation of the law?
I should think not, per same as if you were to display the message on the windowpane itself, because the glass windowpane does not fit into the forbidden descriptions and if there are any issues that will offer proof it is the message, and they want to shut people up.
The issue I have with this is these politicians wrote laws that benefit them, by including an exemption clause, these are the same people who took an Oath to protect the Constitution and the laws of this land. To breach ones Oath is considered PERJURY and the last time I checked that is a federal crime and politicians lose their job immunity when they commit such a crime, and they could be prosecuted in their private capacity.
Is this right or wrong and are they in a violation of a federal protected activity? You Decide!
Title 18, U.S.C., Section 241 – Conspiracy Against Rights
Title 18, U.S.C., Section 242 – Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law
Title 18, U.S.C., Section 245 – Federally Protected Activities
18 U.S. Code § 1621 – Perjury Breaching one’s Oath
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