Austin has limited digitized billboards to only those that display “on-premises” messages. The City’s ordinance effectively prohibits ideological or abstract messages that can never (or rarely) be said to be “on site.” As the Fifth Circuit asked at oral argument, “[h]ow could one determine whether a digital billboard that said ‘God Loves You’ is on-premises or off-premises?”

Austin raises various excuses to conceal its law’s content dependence, but it nonetheless regulates speech based on the content of a speaker’s message. Indeed, Austin’s excuses only highlight how dangerous its restrictions are in limiting all political and noncommercial speech, in giving officials discretion that conceals discrimination through layers of evaluation, and in allowing sleight of hand that obscures the law’s content dependence.

Read the full amicus brief here.

Institute for Free Speech Amicus Brief, United States Supreme Court (September 29, 2021)

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