Court Recognizes Legal Union of Planet K, Ron Paul Sign
Head shop wins five-year battle to display campaign sign on Bee Cave property
Good news for Libertarian advocates, lovers of local head shops, and supporters of free speech: The "Ron Paul Revolution" campaign sign at the Planet K on Highway 71 in Bee Cave will remain in place. An Aug. 26 opinion out of Texas' 3rd Court of Appeals reversed a trial court's order that Auspro Enterprises (owned by Michael Kleinman, who owns the chain of Planet K stores) remove the sign under the standards set in Texas' Highway Beautification Act, which stipulates that election signs may only be displayed without a permit 90 days before and 10 days after a specific election.
Kleinman's sign went up on its long-beleaguered Bee Cave property on July 7, 2011, well before the presidential election in Nov. 2012. Texas' Department of Transportation acted quickly, telling Kleinman that the display violated the HBA. Kleinman resisted, citing the First Amendment, and TxDOT took Auspro to district court, where Judge Timothy Sulak ruled in favor of the state agency. Kleinman filed his appeal in June 2014. In a 29-page opinion, the Court of Appeals establishes that the HBA as written violates the First Amendment "because it is a 'content-based' government regulation of speech that cannot survive strict scrutiny." That's something state lawmakers will have to consider when the Legislature returns to session in January.
In a statement, Kleinman said the five years of litigation proved "worth the wait. The court got it right. Texas sign laws are unconstitutional."
The Bee Cave shop has stayed under heavy scrutiny since its opening in 2011, with obtrusive permitting holdups first delaying a remodel of the old Trading Post site on which it resides, followed by allegations from Bee Cave's city council that a pastoral mural painted on-site by a local artist violated city sign ordinances.