A small town in Louisiana will rescind an ordinance and allow a contractor to fly anti-Biden flags with vulgar language from his truck under a settlement Friday in federal court.
The agreement affecting the town of Grand Isle states that Ross Brunet of Cut Off was “wrongfully cited for engaging in constitutionally protected speech of flying flags with political message” when he was repeatedly cited for a pair of flags with expletives aimed at President Joe Biden.
Grand Isle agreed to repeal an ordinance restricting temporary signs on vehicles containing offensive or vulgar language by Oct. 20 under terms of the settlement in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.
Brunet was also awarded $40,000 in damages and attorneys’ fees.
Attorneys for Brunet and the defendants did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday night.
The settlement comes after Tulane First Amendment Law Clinic filed a lawsuit on behalf of Brunet, who said that town officials violated his right to free speech and Louisiana state laws when they punished him over the flags on his truck which read in all caps: “F— Biden” and “And f— you for voting for him,” in smaller font.
In court papers this year, lawyers for Brunet, who works as a contractor in Grand Isle and across southern Louisiana, said that their client was cited four times in 2021 for the display, which allegedly violated town rules against “patently obscene” words, photos or depictions.
While Brunet successfully defended against the firs four citations, in 2022 he was cited three more times “for the simple act of” flying the flags, his lawyers said. The additional citations were dropped in September of last year, after Grand Isle adopted an ordinance that barred signs on vehicles exceeding 20 x 30 inches or containing language that described a sex act or was “deemed offensive and vulgar.”
Brunet’s lawyers had argued that the ordinance was adopted “to silence Mr. Brunet’s core political speech specifically.” As part of the settlement, the town agreed to repeal the ordinance.
The settlement now awaits approval from a federal judge.