Monday, December 31, 2012
Light display is protected speech
Just in time for the holidays, a Louisiana judge ruled on Thursday that a woman had a right to offer her neighbors an unusual seasons greeting by hanging Christmas lights on her house shaped like a middle finger.
Sarah Childs was in a dispute with some of her neighbors in Denham Springs, just east of Baton Rouge, so she decided to send a message with her decorations.
Neighbors complained and police threatened to arrest her, so she teamed up with the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana and sued the city.
Childs put up the lights on her roof last month. She has removed them twice since - once after a police officer told her she could be fined and again after another officer threatened to arrest her, her lawsuit said.
U.S. District Judge James Brady issued an order temporarily barring city officials from interfering with the display. The two-page order said the city's ‘continued efforts’ to prevent Childs from displaying her holiday lights will violate her rights to free speech and due process.
Denham Springs attorney Paeton Burkett said the city will comply with Brady's order, but she declined to comment on the lawsuit.