U.S. Sixth Circuit Cites The Buckeye Institute’s Brief in Upholding First Amendment

Sep 11, 2019

Columbus, OH – Citing The Buckeye Institute’s amicus brief in Thomas v. Bright, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit upheld the First Amendment and struck down Tennessee’s billboard law as a violation of free speech on Wednesday.

“Tennessee attempted to justify its sign restrictions as a public safety measure, but we are pleased that The Buckeye Institute’s brief was able to help the court see through Tennessee’s deceptive pretext for violating free speech,” said Robert Alt, president and chief executive officer of The Buckeye Institute. “The court’s opinion cited The Buckeye Institute’s legal brief as offering ‘persuasive evidence’ that Tennessee was in fact ‘motivated almost exclusively by aesthetic, not public safety, concerns.’”

Thomas v. Bright (formerly Thomas v. Schroer) challenged the constitutionality of the Tennessee billboard law, which was enacted to comply with the federal Highway Beautification Act. Passed in 1965, the Highway Beautification Act withholds federal tax dollars from states if they do not adopt laws regulating and controlling the placement of outdoor advertisements. Tennessee’s billboard law regulated signage in a way that disadvantaged certain messages in violation of the First Amendment.

Thomas v. Bright was filed by the Institute for Free Speech.

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