9th Circuit Upholds Mobile Billboard Ban

Jul 8, 2016 10:50 AM PST

SAN FRANCISCO — The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that ordinances banning mobile billboards, typically used to advertise strip clubs and other services, do not violate the First Amendment.

California’s Legislature enacted laws between 2010 and 2012 that allowed municipalities to regulate mobile billboards, signs affixed to or pulled behind trucks or trailers, because they can create blight and endanger motorists and pedestrians.

The cities of Los Angeles, Santa Clarita, Loma Linda and Rancho Cucamonga subsequently banned mobile billboards.

Mobile billboard owners Lone Star Security & Video Inc. and Sami Ammari later sued and lost, claiming the ban by the cities infringed on free-speech rights.

The 9th Circuit on Thursday, 3-0, sided with the lower court, deciding that the cities’ five ordinances were narrowly tailored to serve the governments’ “aesthetic and safety interests,” and that the plaintiffs have other options to communicate commercial products and services.

“None of the ordinances in this case are ‘substantially broader than necessary’ to accomplish the cities’ goals of eliminating visual blight and promoting the safe and convenient flow of traffic,” the 9th Circuit said in its ruling. 

“We hold that the ordinances withstand First Amendment scrutiny as content-neutral, reasonable, time, place, and manner restrictions on speech,” the court said.

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