9
Apr/14

Coulrophobia: Lousiana Fails In Attempt to Suppress Speech Critical of Governor


The District Court rejects the Lousiana Lt Governor’s suit against MoveOn relating to MoveOn’s parody of a Lousiana tourism slogan to criticize the Governor’s policy on medicare. Background here.

As to the Lt Governor’s argument that under a ‘cat is not in the hat’ theory, MoveOn was improperly borrowing the Lt Governor’s property to criticize someone other than the Lt Gov (namely the Governor), the Court noted in a footnote that ‘it is well established that the property of agency of the state is the property of the State itself.’ So, given that the Governor is the ‘chief policy maker for the state,’ there is a unity between the owner of the parodied work, and the target of the parody.

As to the argument as to who was confused about what, the court concluded that motorists did not understand the billboard to suggest that the state of Lousiana was criticizing the Governor. I’m not sure that’s the confusion that the Lt Gov. was alleging, but when you attack a non-commercial use, it is difficult to articulate a coherent theory of confusion, so it’s not shocking if the court was confused.

Coverage by Volokh here.

Is this suit sanctionable?

dardenne v moveon

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