Liberty Institute has announced a favorable settlement in a lawsuit brought by Chris Howe, a tea partier who was arrested and thrown in jail for exercising his First Amendment right to free speech on city property on Texas’ primary election day last year. Because of Howe’s lawsuit, the City of Watauga, near Fort Worth, changed its unconstitutional ordinances criminalizing free speech!
Howe was arrested in Watauga and imprisoned for five hours on March 2, 2010, for holding a campaign sign for his favorite candidate over 100 feet away from a polling location. Outrageously, he was then charged with a misdemeanor of violating Watauga city ordinances that ban political signs from public property. During the criminal proceedings, the city attorney admitted to the judge that Watauga’s political sign ordinance could actually be applied to any political speech on public property, even cars with political bumper stickers driving on city roads and citizens wearing political lapel pins while standing or walking on a sidewalk.