TENNESSEE HIGHWAY BEAUTIFICATION ACT STRUCK DOWN
On March 31, 2017, the court in THOMAS V SCHROER found the TN HBA unconstitutional. Don't bother checking the date. It's not April Fool's Day, and this headline isn't a joke. It's a nightmare. The opinion handed down in U.S. District Court in Memphis, in the lengthy and complex case known as Thomas v Schroer, jeopardizes billboard regulations nationwide, on the basis that they violate their owners' First Amendment right to free speech.
The 44-page ruling not only scuttles the legal basis for regulating commercial billboards on federal interstates in Tennessee; it sets a precedent for overturning billboard laws in every state and almost certainly puts municipal sign ordinances at risk as well.
Program regulators, sign-law attorneys and scenic-beauty advocates are still struggling to absorb the implications of this action; we'll post updates as we get them. In the meantime, your financial support is more vital than ever. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to Scenic Tennessee/Scenic Knoxville) to help us defray the thousands in legal costs we've already incurred and gird ourselves for what is likely to be new costs as we try to limit the damage of this ruling.
In the meantime, please use the links below to access a variety of resources relative to this case, including a layman's explanation of the case in a recent Viewpoints newsletter, and a PDF of the court's March 31 ruling in favor of the plaintiff.
Opinion in Thomas v Schroer (Mar 31, 2017)
Scenic organizations' amici curiae brief (Nov. 23, 2016)
"Friends of the Court" cover story, Viewpoints Winter 2017
"Lawsuit targets billboard rules, Commercial Appeal, Nov. 6, 2016