close
close

Tennessee city fined for blasphemous Trump, Biden sign was unconstitutional, judge rules – NBC Boston

A federal judge has ruled that a Tennessee woman has the constitutional right to place a sign in her yard with profane language condemning both President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump.

Julie Pereira put up a sign in her front yard that read, “F— ‘Em Both 2024” — except, uncensored. The city of Lakeland, a northeastern suburb of Memphis, subsequently fined Pereira hundreds of dollars for violating its ordinance against obscene content on signs.

Sign in the yard that reads “F*** Em’ Both 2024” in front of a home in Lakeland, Tennessee.

In June, she filed a lawsuit, saying she was so dissatisfied with both presidential candidates that she wanted a sign that “simply and clearly speaks for itself.”

U.S. District Judge Mark Norris in Memphis ruled Tuesday that Pereira’s political sign is not obscene and that the city cannot legally regulate people’s views.

“We are proud to have protected Ms. Pereira’s right to express her political views and to have achieved a successful outcome in this important First Amendment case,” said Daniel Horwitz, Pereira’s lead attorney.

The judge’s ruling comes after the city agreed to a settlement that paid Pereira approximately $32,000 for her legal fees and reimbursed her for nearly $700 in fines.

The city’s ordinance prohibits signs containing “statements of an obscene, indecent or immoral nature which would offend public morals or standards of decency” and “statements, words or images of an obscene nature.”

Initially, Pereira censored her sign as local officials demanded by covering up one letter in the profane word, but within a week she removed the redaction. The city began fining her in January, so she covered up part of the word again to avoid further penalties, the lawsuit says.

Pereira’s lawsuit argued that swear words are not constitutionally obscene. The lawsuit — and the judge — pointed to a 1971 Supreme Court ruling that overturned the conviction of a California man who entered a courthouse wearing a jacket with an anti-design message that contained profanity.

Back To Top