NOTE: Historical For Reference Only
The US Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case Reagan Advertising v. City of Austin, Texas on November 10, a case that considers whether billboard restrictions violate first amendment rights. Reagan argued that regulating signs based on whether they are off-premises of the product advertised on them violates the right to free speech. At stake is whether federal and state governments will continue to have the right to regulate outdoor advertising signs, commonly known as billboards, along highways in this country. The justices expressed concerns about the implications of the case on the national landscape, the legacy of the Highway Beautification Act, and the costs of overturning long-standing scenic laws. The outcome is far from certain.
In August, Scenic Wisconsin joined other scenic-oriented state organizations in signing an amicus brief in support of the City of Austin. In October, we issued a strongly-worded bulletin in favor of Austin, to encourage people and organizations in Wisconsin to join the fray against Reagan. Attached to the bulletin was an improved edition of our policy statement “Billboards are not a benefit in Wisconsin”, which states the importance of scenery.
By Charlie Mitchell
Scenic News, November 25, 2021