That word on a crude sign on a lawn in La Crosse, Wis., has reinforced the First Amendment.
Dennis Lawrence put it up last summer.
“I wasn’t expecting any kind of response other than to just express my opinion of the immoral, ignorant buffoon in our president’s office,” Lawrence tells the La Crosse Tribune.
When the city’s buildings and inspections department sent him a notice shortly after the sign went up, he reduced the size of the sign to be less than 12 square feet. He got another notice: the sign has to go.
“I didn’t go along with that,” Lawrence said.
He had two things on his side: the Constitution and the American Civil Liberties Union, and last week, he got a third notice: the sign can stay.
“A lot of what we needed to do with our 79 pages of sign code is to try and pull out those content-based distinctions,” [city attorney Stephen] Matty said.
While it sounds simple enough, he said, the size of the ordinance, along with the four different Supreme Court justice opinions on the case, make it a difficult undertaking. The department is drafting changes that will eventually need to be approved by the La Crosse Common Council.
“It’s an important issue … We’re talking about the First Amendment. It’s the First Amendment for a reason. It’s the most important amendment. It’s not something you want to get wrong,” Matty said.
Eventually, the sign came down. Lawrence says he took it down because his father was afraid people would vandalize their home. But he says when the ground thaws, it’s going back up.