• Who speaks on billboards? It’s a long list.

    The billboard-tax lawsuit in Cincinnati shines a spotlight on “billboard speech.” Insider collected samples from around the country, highlighting the diversity of speakers expressing viewpoints and ideas.

    On November 9, the judge in the Cincinnati billboard-tax case made the court’s injunction against the targeted tax permanent.  A targeted tax on protected speech burdens the First Amendment, the court ruled.

    To support his injunction against Cincinnati’s billboard tax, Court of Common Pleas Judge Curt C. Hartman quoted the 1981 Supreme Court ruling in Metromedia v. City of San Diego that billboards are a means of expression entitled to First Amendment protection. The city intends to appeal, arguing that billboards are not protected speech.

    Let’s take a look at recent expression on billboards and other out of home ad formats:

    On November 15, Scenic America shared a photo of a mobile billboard in Washington, DC, which communicated an environmental message.

    On November 6, Utah voted to legalize medical marijuana. Proponents quoted Mormon scripture to urge support for the measure (Prop 2).

    In Oregon, Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR) was re-elected by a strong margin on November 6. Walden’s campaign billboards – an important form of political speech — appeared throughout his sprawling rural District.

    Sports fans voice their passion on billboards.  Prior to the Alabama-LSU game November 3, LSU football fans cried foul regarding sanctions imposed on their team’s star linebacker Devin White (Alabama won).

    Texas-based non-profit Your Whole Baby speaks against circumcision, like this poster in Pittsburgh (July 2018).

    In Omaha, the Latino Police Officers Association and community group La Casa del Pueblo expressed themselves in Spanish on billboards against drunk driving.                                                  The World Herald

    Insider’s Take:  the US Supreme Court stated an important principle in Metromedia, that “billboards are a well-established medium of communication, used to convey a broad range of different kinds of messages.”


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