Great Moments in Government Regulation: Thou Shall Not Change Signs More than Twice per Day
1. Washington Post -- "If the Church of the Good Shepherd in Vienna, VA wanted to post the Ten Commandments on its sign on Hunter Mill Road, it would take five days to broadcast them all. That’s because Fairfax County has a commandment of its own: Thou shall not change electronic signs more than twice a day."
"So, after the Vienna United Methodist church posted three messages one day last month — offering refuge from the heat, then promoting its Web site and finally listing the time of a group prayer meeting — a zoning inspector called it a sin and hit the church with a warning letter":
“It is noted that the screens changed more than twice in a twenty-four (24) hour period,” the letter stated. “This changeable copy LED sign is considered a prohibited sign.”
"The county offered two choices: permanently limit the sign to two message changes per day or remove it altogether. At a meeting at the end of July, about two months after the church installed the sign, the county and the congregation couldn’t agree on a compromise. So the church, believing that the First Amendment also applies to the word of God, sued last week in federal court in Alexandria, saying the two-message limit violates the church’s rights to free speech and the free exercise of religion. The suit says that the county’s ordinance violates a 2000 law, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, which prohibits zoning rules that place undue burdens on religious institutions."
Update: Fairfax County says it will revisit sign rule that sparked church lawsuit