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Federal Lawsuit Claims Dallas's Sign Ordinance Violates First Amendment

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The Institute for Justice -- which bills itself as the "nation's only libertarian public interest law firm" -- sends word this morning that it's unhappy with the city of Dallas's year-old law that prohibits business owners from covering their storefront windows with signs. How unhappy? Federal-lawsuit unhappy. The suit was to be filed this morning, and till we see the docs, the morning's press release will have to do: Says Matt Miller, executive director of the Institute for Justice Texas Chapter out of Austin, the ordinance, championed by Dwaine Caraway, is a "blatant" First Amendment violation that's hurting small businesses -- chiefly, April Gilliland (who co-owns a FastSigns franchise on Central Expressway), Charlie Patel (owner of Lakeside Cleaners at Knox Avenue and Central), Dena McDonald (owner of Tiki Trips on McKinney Avenue) and others rounded up for the suit.

Says Miller, "Cities wouldn't dream of telling a newspaper how many pages of advertising they could carry, or telling a television station that they could only advertise during certain hours. Yet they are perfectly happy to ban the basic window signs that small businesses rely on to attract customers." Unfair Park left a message for Miller this morning; we've got some questions. Till then, here's the IJ's lengthy backgrounder on the suit.

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