CONWAY, N.H.—Yesterday, a vote to change the definition of “sign” under Conway’s zoning laws narrowly failed to pass. The vote was in response to the town’s crackdown on a mural of donut mountains above Leavitt’s Country Bakery and other murals throughout town. The town’s discrimination against Leavitt’s and other speakers prompted the Institute for Justice (IJ) to team up with Leavitt’s to launch a First Amendment lawsuit in January.
“I’m somewhat surprised by the result of yesterday’s vote and we’ll keep fighting to save the students’ artwork and stand up for the First Amendment,” said Leavitt’s owner Sean Young.
Under the town’s sign code, Leavitt’s is required to remove the mural because it depicts something the store sells: baked goods. If the mountains on the mural were made with a different object, or if the same exact mural was placed on a store that doesn’t sell baked goods, it would be perfectly legal. The mural currently remains because, after IJ brought suit, the town agreed not to enforce its sign code against Leavitt’s while the lawsuit is pending.
“Conway’s sign code violates Sean’s First Amendment rights and the First Amendment rights of the students who created this artwork,” said IJ Litigation Fellow Betsy Sanz. “We’ll continue to fight for the rights of all Conway residents to display art protected by the First Amendment.”
“While yesterday’s result is mildly surprising, we look forward to making our case in front of a court that Conway’s sign code tramples on the free speech rights of all Conway residents,” said IJ Senior Attorney Rob Frommer.