St. Louis Public Radio News
8:16 am
Tue August 22, 2006

Federal court throws out ban on sexually explicit billboards

St. Louis, MO. – A federal appeals court has overturned Missouri's ban on sexually explicit billboards.

The ruling announced Monday by the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis says Missouri's effort to prohibit sexually-oriented businesses from advertising within a mile of state highways is unconstitutional.

The ruling overturns a federal judge's decision in March upholding the law that took effect in August of 2004. The businesses, though, would have had until 2007 to take their billboard ads down. A string of adult businesses had fought the measure.

Supporters claimed the ads were inappropriate for children and could lead to traffic accidents. But in saying the ban was too broad, the court also said Monday a less-broad ban could achieve the same aims.

The state will seek a rehearing before the full appeals court, said John Fougere, a spokesman for Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon. If that fails, the state might take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

House Speaker Rod Jetton called the court's ruling "unfortunate."

"It leaves Missourians of every age exposed to sleazy billboards along our highways," he said in a statement.