Luce v. Town of Campbell, Wisconsin, No. 15-2627 (7th Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
Interstate 90 runs through Campbell, Wisconsin, with a speed limit of 65 miles per hour. Two streets and one pedestrian overpass cross the highway within the town. A traffic survey in 2008 found that 23,000-29,000 trucks and cars pass through the town on I-90 every day. The local Tea Party placed banners on the pedestrian overpass, bearing messages such as “HONK TO IMPEACH OBAMA,” leading the town to enact an ordinance forbidding all signs, flags, and banners (other than traffic-control information) on any of the overpasses, or within 100 feet of the end of those structures. The district court rejected a suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 on summary judgment. The Seventh Circuit vacated as to the challenge to the 100-foot buffer zone but otherwise affirmed. The ordinance is content-neutral; it does not matter what message any privately placed sign bears. It is a time, place, and manner limit, permitting messages to be conveyed anywhere else in Campbell. A “state or local legislature that attempts to reduce the incidence of sudden braking on a superhighway cannot be thought to be acting irrationally or trying to suppress speech for no good reason.” The town did not try to justify the buffer zone.