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City of Ladue v. Gilleo

United States Supreme Court
512 U.S. 43 (1994)



Gilleo (plaintiff) lived in the City of Ladue. On two occasions, she attempted to put signs in her yard advocating political causes, but the first time the sign was removed and the second time it was defaced. She complained to the police, but was told that the City of Ladue (defendant) prohibited such signs. Gilleo’s request for a variance was denied. Gilleo brought suit alleging infringement of her First Amendment rights. The trial court granted her a temporary injunction, but the city responded by repealing its ordinance and enacting a new one which removed availability of a variance. The statute stated that it was passed in an effort to discourage visual clutter which would result from an unlimited amount of signs in the city. Gilleo amended her complaint to target the new ordinance. The trial court and the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals found that the ordinance was unconstitutional because it treated commercial speech more favorably than noncommercial speech and therefore was a content-based regulation. The City appealed to the Supreme Court.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Stevens, J.)

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