Local News

Cary wins federal appeal in house-sign fight

Posted January 22, 2013 1:46 p.m. EST
Updated January 22, 2013 2:05 p.m. EST

— A U.S. appeals court has overturned a federal ruling that the Town of Cary violated a resident's freedom of speech when it fined him for violating the town's sign ordinance.

In August 2009, David Bowden painted the phrase "Screwed By The Town of Cary" on his Maynard Road home after, he claimed, a road-widening project caused drainage problems on his property.

The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina sued on Bowden's behalf, and in December 2010, U.S. District Judge Louise Flanagan found that the town infringed upon Bowden's right to express a message of political protest when it tried to enforce the ordinance, which specifies how and where signs can be displayed.

Cary was subsequently ordered to pay more than $46,000 in attorney fees and court costs.

The Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond ruled Friday that the ordinance does not violate the First Amendment.

"We are very pleased with the court’s affirmation of our fair and balanced treatment of community standards and the First Amendment," Lisa Glover, assistant attorney for Cary, said in a statement. "We appreciate all the support we received from local governments across the United States."

Bowden died of cancer in June 2011.