Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Luce v. Town of Campbell

United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin

March 29, 2019

GREGORY LUCE and NICHOLAS NEWMAN, Plaintiffs,
v.
TOWN OF CAMPBELL, WISCONSIN, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          WILLIAM M. CONLEY DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiffs Gregory Luce and Nicholas Newman brought this suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Town of Campbell, challenging the constitutionality of an ordinance prohibiting signs, banners, flags and other similar items on or within 100 feet of a pedestrian bridge or overpass. This court granted summary judgment in favor of defendants, holding that the ordinance was a reasonable time, place and manner restriction on plaintiffs' First Amendment rights. (6/16/15 Op. & Order (dkt #127).) On appeal, the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part: upholding the prohibitions on the bridge itself; vacating this court's judgment with respect to the plaintiff's challenge to the 100-foot buffer zone; and remanding the case for further proceedings as to whether the buffer zone provision is narrowly tailored to serve a significant government interest. Luce v. Town of Campbell, 872 F.3d 512 (7th Cir. 2017).

         On remand, both parties moved for summary judgment. (Dkt. ##170, 175.) Defendant argues that the town ordinance is narrowly tailored to promote traffic safety. Plaintiffs argue that: (1) defendant's motion for summary judgment rests on inadmissible declarations; (2) the information asserted in these declarations is contradictory or unreliable and, therefore, should be given no evidentiary weight; and (3) the city ordinance is not narrowly tailored. For the reasons that follow, the court agrees with plaintiffs that defendant has not met its burden of demonstrating that the 100-foot buffer zone is narrowly tailored to serve a significant government interest. Accordingly, the court will grant plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment and enjoin the enforcement of the buffer zone.

         UNDISPUTED FACTS[1]

         A. Background

         Plaintiffs Gregory Luce and Nicholas Newman are residents of La Crosse County and members of the local Tea Party. They sought to share their political views by demonstrating on a pedestrian bridge spanning interstate 1-90 in the Town of Campbell, Wisconsin. In August and September 2013, plaintiffs and their affiliates began placing political signs and banners on the overpass, displaying messages such as “HONK TO IMPEACH OBAMA.”

         In response, the Town's council enacted an ordinance forbidding all signs, flags and banners on any of the Town's three highway overpasses or within 100 feet of the structures. The ordinance provides in pertinent part:

No person shall display, place, erect, post, maintain, install, affix, or carry any sign, flags, banners, pennants, streamers, balloons or any other similar item:
(1) on any portion of a vehicular or pedestrian bridge or overpass that passes over a freeway or expressway as defined in Wis.Stat. § 346.57, or a controlled access highway as defined in Wis.Stat. § 990.01, when such highway has a speed limit of more than 40 miles per hour, whether the highway is under the jurisdiction of the federal, state or local government, provided that such sign is visible from such freeway, expressway or controlled access highway.
(2) within one hundred (100) feet of any portion of a vehicular or pedestrian bridge or overpass that passes over a freeway or expressway as defined in Wis.Stat. § 346.57, or a controlled access highway as defined in Wis.Stat. § 990.01, when such highway has speed limit of more than 40 miles per hour, whether the highway is under the jurisdiction of the federal, state or local government, provided that such sign is visible from such freeway, expressway or controlled access highway.

(Def.'s PFOFs (dkt. #64) ¶ 113 (emphasis added).) Local law enforcement began issuing citations to protestors who were displaying signs and flying flags on the bridge. The protestors responded by taking video recordings of police officers who were issuing citations and threatening law enforcement.

         This court entered summary judgment in favor of defendants, concluding that: (1) the ordinance was content neutral; (2) it was narrowly tailored to serve the significant government interest of traffic safety; and (3) it left open alternative channels of communication. (6/16/15 Op. & Order (dkt. #127)). On appeal, the Seventh Circuit agreed with conclusions (1) and (3), but disagreed in part with conclusion (2) to the extent that this court found the one-hundred foot buffer zone described in 912.2(2) was narrowly tailored to serve a significant government interest. Luce, 872 F.3d at 513-14, 516-17.Specifically, while agreeing that traffic safety was a significant government interest, the court expressed concern that the 100-foot buffer zone could have the incidental effect of banning non-dangerous speech on private property.[2]

The ordinance forbids a small “For Sale” sign on the front lawn of any house near the ends of the overpasses….It bans every political sign on a home's lawn, every balloon emblazoned with “Happy Birthday” for a party in the back yard, every “Merry Christmas” banner draped over the front door in December, and every “Open” sign in the door or any shop near an overpass. These prohibitions apply whether or not the sign is large enough to attract drivers' attention.

Id. at 518. Given that the signs within the 100-foot buffer “may be too small to cause drivers to react, ” even though “visible” within the meaning of the ordinance, the court concluded that absent “some justification for the 100-foot rule, ” this court “should ensure that political demonstrations and ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.