“For Sale” Victory Now Final

February 1, 2008

IJ client Chris Pagan’s hard-fought victory for free speech became final in late November when the U.S. Supreme Court denied a petition for review filed by Glendale, Ohio.

Glendale asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn last summer’s narrow 8-7 win in a rare proceeding before the entire 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The case began in 2003 when Glendale ordered Chris to remove a “For Sale” sign from his car window.

Chris promptly filed suit in federal court under the First Amendment, where, inexplicably, he lost. The trial court ruled that the government has broad discretion to decide what signs citizens may display. A three-judge panel of the 6th Circuit affirmed on appeal.

IJ took up Chris’ cause in 2006, persuading all 15 judges of the 6th Circuit to reconsider the case because the rulings of the trial court and original appellate panel seriously undermined the basic First Amendment principle that government has very little power to restrict free speech.

Following new briefing and oral argument, the 6th Circuit ruled in our favor last summer, striking down the challenged ordinance in a powerful, though closely decided, 8-7 decision explaining that the government bears a heavy burden when it wants to restrict speech. Glendale then unsuccessfully asked the Supreme Court to intervene.

Chris’ tenacity in the face of two disappointing losses resulted in a major victory that will influence First Amendment law across the country. His way was the IJ Way, and we were proud to stand with him.

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