Your Government, Your Editor
The Riverfront Times blog points out that a judge in the local U.S. District Court has determined that St. Louis city may choose which messages it permits citizens to express. In a case that we’ve previously discussed here, Jim Roos sued the city when officials demanded that he remove a mural on one of his buildings calling for an end to eminent domain abuse. Roos pointed out that the city’s laws would have permitted the mural if only he had chosen to communicate a different idea (such as displaying a flag, some other approved symbol, or “Go, Cardinals!”), and that the First Amendment does not allow government to make content-based distinctions in deciding when and where citizens can express themselves — especially when that expression is related to issues of political importance.
The court ruled today that the government does, in fact, get to choose which messages citizens can communicate. In the words of Michael Bindas, one of the attorneys from the Institute for Justice representing Roos in his lawsuit, “The court’s decision gets it precisely backwards.” Fortunately, IJ and Roos intend to keep fighting, and the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals will have the chance to correct the lower court’s mistake.