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Court rules that a city may not decide what is Art and what is not…..

Business owners have been fighting the Sign/Mural Ordinance for years...

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Mandan, N.D.—Following
a federal court order in Lonesome Dove’s lawsuit against Mandan over
the city’s mural guidelines, all Mandan businesses are free to display
murals without the government’s permission as the lawsuit continues.

On July 11, Magistrate Judge Clare R.
Hochhalter of the U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota
ordered that “The City of Mandan shall not enforce its mural ordinance
against plaintiff Lonesome Dove, Inc. or others subject to it, during
the pendency of this litigation.”

“This order means the people of
Mandan don’t have to ask government officials for permission to express
themselves by painting a mural,” said Institute for Justice (IJ) Senior
Attorney Robert Frommer, who represents Lonesome Dove. “We won’t stop
until Mandan residents have their First Amendment rights vindicated once
and for all.”

Lonesome Dove owners Brian Berube and August “Augie” Kersten and IJ sued Mandan
in May for ordering that they take a mural down that improved the
appearance of their business. They had tried to get a permit for their
mural, but the city denied it for being on the front of their building
and for displaying the name “Lonesome Dove,” which the city decided was a
“commercial message.” These restrictions are unconstitutional: Murals
are protected by the First Amendment, and the government does not get to
play art critic by deciding what speech is okay and what isn’t.

Recognizing that Mandan’s mural code
“is unlikely to survive constitutional muster,” U.S. District Court
Judge Daniel Hovland approved a temporary restraining order protecting
Lonesome Dove’s mural from destruction just two days after Lonesome Dove
filed its lawsuit. At a settlement conference in July, the city agreed
to extend and expand that temporary restraining order by refraining from
enforcing its mural ordinance against anyone in the city.

“I’m happy that we and other
businesses here can have murals now, but we’ll keep fighting until the
ordinance is gone for good,” Brian Berube said.

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