Photo: Jay Janner, Austin American-Statesman

“Reagan and Lamar sued the City of Austin when the city denied approximately 85 digital billboard permits for off-premise advertising billboards arguing that the City Sign Code’s distinction between on-premise and off-premise signs violated the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment free speech clause.

The case was first heard by the US District Court for the Western District of Texas, and held FOR the City, ie, that the city sign code on/off-premise distinction was not content-based and was constitutional using an intermediate scrutiny standard of review.

On August 25, 2020, a three-member panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the US Western District Court and held:the Austin Sign Code’s on-premises/off-premises distinction was content-based and must therefore be subject to a strict scrutiny standard of review. The Fifth Circuit concluded that under that higher standard of review, the city’s on/off-premise distinction was content-based, thus unconstitutional.

The City of Austin has announced it will appeal to SCOTUS—filing due January 21, 2021.”

— Scenic Texas

Scenic Texas legal experts weigh in on this case

Read additional article about this battle in the Austin American-Statesman