The Black Lives Matter and We Can’t Breathe street mural proposals will be presented to the Chestertown Town Council on Monday, August 10th, at 7:30 pm.
For several weeks the proposals have dominated discussions throughout the community and have garnered widespread support and criticism.
One concern especially has been brought to the fore: what are the legal ramifications of a painted mural on a town street, and does it open a Pandora’s box of claims for equal representation by other organizations?
As with most cases in Chestertown, an expert in first amendment rights was just around the corner.
The Spy has turned to attorney and Chestertown resident Jim Astrachan to frame the mural proposal in a town law and Constitutional context. He neither promotes nor dismisses the idea, but offers scenarios using the legal principle of government speech doctrine. In other words, the Free Speech Clause of the 1st Amendment does not restrict government speech.
Consequently, the Town could accept the mural proposals and make the BLM murals a government statement. But where does a street mural fit into legal precedents, and if the mural was to become government speech, what legal challenges could be presented?
During a more extended overview of Constitutional issues, Astrachan offers some insight into how the mural project might proceed, its potential challenges, and an interesting alternative.
Jim is a partner at Astrachan Gunst Thomas in Baltimore and professor of Law at Baltimore University and speaks nationwide on intellectual copyright, property topics, including advertising law, branding, trademark protection and copyright protection. He is the author of The Law of Advertising and Mass Communications.
This video is approximately six minutes in length