A Tennessee businessman and attorney named William Thomas Jr. has filed a lawsuit against the Tennessee Department of Transportation, claiming that the agency’s rules regarding billboards constitute "content-based" regulation of speech.
The suit follows one last year in Arizona, Reed v. Town of Gilbert, which resulted in the U.S. Supreme Court instituting dramatic changes in the way local governments can regulate non-commercial signs.
In Thomas’ case, he not only operates a billboard business where he sells ads, but, as the Memphis, Tennessee-based Commercial Appeal newspaper notes from the lawsuit, he also puts up billboards “that convey the thoughts and ideas of Mr. Thomas.”
Given the ripple effect Reed v. Gilbert had on sign regulations across the country, this is a case that is being watched closely, and a ruling may come before this year is out. Click HERE to read the newspaper’s report.