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US Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Tennessee Appeal of Thomas v Bright

The finding — that traditional regulatory distinction between on-premise and off-premise signs (billboards) is content-based and therefore unconstitutional — stands in four states.

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The International Sign Association (ISA; Alexandria, VA) is reporting that on July 9, the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) refused to hear an appeal from the state of Tennessee on the Thomas v. Bright case, a decision from Sept. 2019 which found that the traditional regulatory distinction between on-premise and off-premise signs (billboards) is content-based and therefore unconstitutional.

An announcement from ISA read in part, that the ramification of this case means that the Thomas v. Bright decision is settled law in the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals’ jurisdiction, which includes Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. In those four states, any provisions in a community’s sign code that exempts or even specifically mentions “on-premise” or “off-premise” signs may be subject to legal challenge under Reed v. Town of Gilbert and Thomas. The local jurisdictions and state DOTs that have such language will likely have to revise their regulations, and ISA will be offering local and state officials guidance on how they can treat these kinds of signs in a manner that is content-neutral.

For more information about these legal developments, visit the Midwest Sign Association.

For more information about sign legislation in general, visit signs.org.

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