A contractor in Louisiana is at the forefront of a fight over free speech. At issue, flags flying on his truck saying “F— Joe Biden.” However, his flags did not contain hyphens, but spelled out the vulgarity.
Ross Brunet is from Cut Off, Louisiana, and he really doesn’t like President Biden. His work truck is adorned with three large flags. One is for breast cancer awareness, the other two contain pointed expletives aimed at the president, and his supporters.
Brunet often works in Grand Isle, Louisiana. That’s where his First Amendment rights hit limits.
Brunet said a Grand Isle police officer arrested and ticketed him numerous times because of the flags. Brunet was told they violated a state obscenity law. He fought the charges, and won, on the grounds his flags were protected political speech.
However, Grand Isle’s elected leaders weren’t done targeting Brunet. In August of 2022, the city passed an ordinance ordering “signs on vehicles shall not contain language deemed offensive and vulgar nor obscene in nature and cannot contain language that describes a sex act.”
Brunet said the ordinance is clearly aimed at him and is an attack on his constitutionally protected freedom to express his political beliefs. Brunet filed a lawsuit this week against Grand Isle, the town’s mayor, police chief, city attorney, the judge who oversaw the case and the officer who issued the citations.
Brunet’s case is being handled by the First Amendment Law Clinic at the University of Tulane. Clinic Director Katie Schwartzmann, said, “The town’s new ordinance is clearly a violation of the First Amendment. It needs to be tossed out.”
Schwartzmann said free speech is a cornerstone of our democracy, and that courts have repeatedly upheld the right to controversial and unpopular speech. According to Tulane’s Free Speech Law Clinic, Brunet’s case is a modern replay of a landmark free speech case from 1971. It was during the fever pitch of the Vietnam War, and an anti-war protester was charged with disturbing the peace for wearing a jacket that said “F— the Draft.”