Court Blocks City of Mandan From Fining Bar Owner Over Mural

The large mural painted on the door wind block at the entrance to Lonesome Dove on "The Strip" in Mandan is an unpermitted mural under the Mandan city's ordinance. Mike McCleary / Bismarck Tribune

On today’s Plain Talk podcast I spoke with one of the owners of the Lonesome Dove bar in Mandan. He had paid to have a mural painted on the side of his business – it cost him around $3,000 – but bureaucrats at the City of Mandan took exception.

They told him his mural was illegal, and that he had to take it down or face daily fines until it is removed. Because you can’t just do art without the government’s permission.

What do you think this is, a free country or something?

Anyway, we recorded the podcast yesterday, and today responding to a lawsuit filed by the business owner and the Institute for Justice, a judge enjoined the City of Mandan from taking action against the mural until this matter is settled.

And the judge indicated that the case for the mural is likely to prevail. Noting that Mandan’s ordinances are not “content neutral,” the court concluded that “Such a content-based restriction on speech as Mandan has enacted is unlikely to survive constitutional muster.”

That’s not the final word on this matter, but it’s a good sign.

You can read the judge’s full order below.

Discussion question: How much is this litigation, over absurd and very stupid regulations, going to cost the taxpayers of Mandan?

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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