Monday, September 25, 2023

Removal of Mural Protected By First Amendment

A federal judge ruled Friday that Gov. Paul LePage did not violate the free speech clause of the First Amendment when he ordered a mural removed from the headquarters of the Maine Department of Labor. LePage ordered the mural’s removal last month, saying it offered a one-sided view of labor history that some business owners found offensive.

Central to Stern’s argument was a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2008 in a case involving Pleasant Grove City, Utah. … about whether the city could deny an obscure religion’s request to display a monument in a public park, while the city allowed the display of a monument about the Ten Commandments.

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously that monuments in public places should be recognized as the government’s own speech, and that decisions about their placement are exempt from the free speech clause of the First Amendment.

So, is a monument the same as a mural? In other words, the argument here is that when the general public sees a monument on public space, they believe it is the government that is doing the “speaking.” Similarly, under LePage’s ruling, when the general public sees this mural, they will believe it is also the government that is doing the “speaking” and not the artist. Is this true?

More via The Portland Press Herald.


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