IJ Strikes Again: Entrepreneurs Sue City of Dallas To Overturn Ban on Window Signs

November 10th, 2009

The Institute for Justice filed a new lawsuit today:

The Texas Chapter of the Institute for Justice today filed a federal suit against the city of Dallas, Texas, for violating the free speech rights of local businesses.

Under the new law enacted in 2008, businesses are prohibited from putting signs in the upper two-thirds of any window or glass door, and no more than 15 percent of any window or glass door may be covered by signs.  The only way to comply with the new ordinance is by putting tiny signs at people’s feet—which is not an effective way to advertise.  The law also bans signs that cover more than 25 percent of a building’s façade.

The law only targets commercial messages.  Businesses are free to put anything except a commercial message in their windows.  For example, a business could paint a giant Dallas Cowboys helmet on its window—but not advertise that it offers Cowboys merchandise for sale inside.  Businesses can paint their windows black or put coolers or other items in front of them.  In fact, businesses are not even required to have windows at all.  What they cannot do is put a commercial message in the upper two-thirds of a window or cover more than 15 percent of a window with one.

That law seems rational. Stay tuned.