WILL Wins Preliminary Injunction in Defense of 1st Amendment

Lawsuit is a part of WILL’s Preserving Democracy Project

The News: The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) has won a preliminary injunction on behalf of clients Tim and Megan Florek, against the City of Neenah for its unconstitutional sign ordinance. WILL’s lawsuit alleged that the City violated the Floreks’ First Amendment speech rights. The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin in Green Bay. The City will not be able to enforce their unconstitutional ordinance against the Floreks while the lawsuit moves forward.

The Quotes: WILL Deputy Counsel, Lucas Vebber, stated: “The First Amendment protects every American’s right to speak. Too often, government bodies ignore their citizens’ right to speak out, and WILL promises to hold such bad actors accountable, no matter what.”

WILL Associate Counsel, Cara Tolliver, stated: “This case was decided in 2015 when the United States Supreme Court decided Reed v. Town of Gilbert, Arizona – a case in which the court struck down an ordinance nearly identical to that of the City’s here. It is long past time for local leaders to ensure compliance with the Constitution, and WILL is here to ensure that citizens like the Floreks keep their rights.”

WILL client, Tim Florek, stated: “The City’s sign ordinance is unconstitutional, and we are grateful the Court has stepped in to protect our rights while this case moves forward. This is a good day for freedom and the rule of law.”

Background: In January 2023, the City of Neenah sent a number of “Notice of Violation” letters to residents in efforts to shut down public debate and order citizens to remove signs that opposed a re-zoning effort. WILL clients, Tim and Megan Florek, received this notice from the City, accusing them of violating the City’s sign ordinance. The penalty for non-compliance is a fine of up to $500 for the first offense, and up to $1,000 for each subsequent offense. Each day the sign is displayed is considered a separate offense. On January 17, WILL sent a demand letter, alerting the City of Neenah about its First Amendment violation. WILL demanded that the City withdraw the Notice of Violation and provide assurances that the ordinance would not be enforced, but the City did not comply. Consequently, on January 30, WILL filed this lawsuit against the City, urging the court to enter a preliminary injunction to prohibit the City from enforcing its unlawful sign ordinance. On April 6, 2023, the court ordered the requested relief, immediately enjoining the City from its enforcement efforts. The injunction will stay in place while the litigation moves forward. 

Preserving Democracy Project: This case is part of WILL’s Preserving Democracy Project. The project enforces the structural limitations on government power, holds bureaucrats to the rule of law, and fights back against rogue government officials at the local, state and federal level who act beyond the authority given to them.

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Lucas Vebber

Lucas Vebber

Deputy Counsel

Cara Tolliver

Cara Tolliver

Associate Counsel

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