A federal judge formalized his previous order prohibiting Selah city officials from enforcing parts of the city’s ordinances on signs.
The 35-page order of United States District Court Judge Rosanna Malouf Peterson, issued on June 30, expanded her original oral order in the lawsuit brought by members of the Selah Alliance For Equality against the city.
SAFE alleges in court that the city’s ban on its signs placed along city streets violates free speech provisions in the constitutions of the United States and Washington.
“Court concludes that there is a likelihood of irreparable harm to the plaintiff in the absence of an injunction preventing the town of Selah from enforcing the political sign provision, the permit process and the ban on public signs “Peterson wrote in his decision.
In addition to the city, the SAFE lawsuit also names Mayor Sherry Raymond and former city administrator Don Wayman as defendants.
Wayman was fired on May 25, following a closed-door city council meeting. Raymond declined to say why Wayman was fired, saying it would only spark more controversy in the city.
SAFE filed a lawsuit after the city, under the leadership of Wayman and Raymond, removed SAFE signs placed along city streets calling for racial equality and Wayman’s dismissal.
Video shot by a SAFE member shows Wayman personally pulling SAFE signs that have been placed in the strip of grass along the side of South First Street.
City officials argued that the signs violated the city’s Signs Ordinance, which requires permits for all signs except those promoting political candidates and voting issues.
SAFE argued that its signs constitute political speech and that the city allowed people to post signs promoting garage sales, events and businesses on public roads without a permit.
While city officials have since said they will no longer enforce the signage ordinance and are in the process of replacing the signage ordinance with one that passes constitutional scrutiny, Peterson said that this was not enough to prevent him from issuing an injunction.
“Although Selah tells the court that he suspended the application of the political signs provision … Selah did not have the ‘heavy burden of persuading’ the court that the application of (the signs) could not reasonably recur when the bylaw has not yet been repealed or amended, ”Peterson wrote. “Selah town officials, including the individual defendants, who have been ordered to take no action ‘for the time being’ does not amount to permanent change. “
Peterson also said there was a high likelihood that SAFE would win in his case, justifying the preliminary injunction.