Jared McGriff, et al. v. City of Miami Beach, No. 22-12863 (11th Cir. 2023)Annotate this Case
Artists (collectively “plaintiffs”) appealed the district court’s entry of summary judgment in favor of the City of Miami Beach on their First Amendment claim brought against the City under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983. The City contracted with the artists to create and curate a series of artworks that the City would own. The district court entered summary judgment after finding that the City’s removal of one piece of Plaintiffs’ artwork constituted government speech and was immune from First Amendment scrutiny.
The Eleventh Circuit affirmed. The court explained that Plaintiffs argued that “artistic expression” is the type of speech at issue here and concede that it “has sometimes been used to convey government speech.” However, they suggest that the history factor requires the majority of the historical use of a type of speech to have been by the government, as opposed to by private individuals. The court wrote that even assuming, as Plaintiffs contend, that artistic expression has historically been used for private speech more often than government speech, this does not negate the government’s own long historical use of artistic expression to convey messages. The history factor does not require the government to show that it historically commissioned more artwork than private individuals and institutions. The court concluded that just as “governments are not obliged under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to permit the presence of a rebellious army’s battle flag in the pro-veterans parades that they fund and organize,” they are not obliged to display any particular artwork in the art exhibitions that they fund, organize, and promote.