Constitutional Law

Fla. City to Pay $55K to Bait Shop Ticketed for Displaying US Constitution


Lawyers for the city of Clearwater had said the Florida municipality was on solid legal ground when it fined a local bait shop over a fish mural painted on an exterior wall of the business.

But after two federal judges disagreed that the city’s sign ordinance was constitutional as applied, the city’s counsel worked out an agreement to settle for $55,000 a First Amendment case brought on the bait shop’s behalf by the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, the St. Petersburg Times reported.

Aside from $700 to reimburse bait shop owners Herb and Lori Quintero for the fines they paid, the money will go to the ACLU for its work on the case.

The Quinteros get to keep the mural, however. After being ticketed over the mural, which allegedly violated the city’s sign ordinance, and ordered to remove it, they covered up the offending fish with the text of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution—and got cited again, as discussed in previous ABAJournal.com posts.

The settlement agreement is expected to before the city council for approval on Aug. 6, reports the Tampa Tribune.

“I don’t care about the money. It’s never been about the fish,” Herb Quintero tells the Times. “It’s been about the government overreaching and telling us what to do just because they said so.”

Additional details are provided on the bait shop’s Keep the Fish blog.

Earlier coverage:

ABAJournal.com: ” Fla. City Official: Business Sign Rules Allow US Flag, But Not 1st Amendment”

ABAJournal.com: “ACLU Backs Florida Bait Shop Ticketed for Displaying US Constitution”

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