Wed, 02 Oct 2019
Last month I mentioned that, while federal law generally prohibits signs and billboards about signs within ⅛ mile of a federal highway, signs offering free coffee are allowed.
Vilhelm Sjöberg brought to my attention the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Reed v. Town of Gilbert. Under the Reed logic, the exemption for free coffee may actually be unconsitutional. The majority's opinion states, in part:
The court concluded that the Sign Code (of the town of Gilbert, AZ) was therefore subject to the very restrictive standard of strict scrutiny, which required that it be struck down unless the government could demonstrate both that it was necessary to a “compelling state interest” and that it be “narrowly tailored” to achieving that interest. The Gilbert Sign Code did not survive this analysis.
Although the court unanimously struck down the Sign Code, a concurrence, written by Justice Kagan and joined by Ginsburg and Breyer, faulted the majority's reasoning:
Kagan specifically mentioned the “free coffee” exception as being one of many that would be imperiled by the court's reasoning in this case.
Thanks very much to M. Sjöberg for pointing this out.