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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Disappointing — and slightly embarrassing — news arrived on Tuesday for conservative Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal, when a federal judge ruled in favor of MoveOn.Org, the liberal organization that put up a billboard in the state slamming Jindal’s refusal to expand Medicaid.

MoveOn had been sued in March by lieutenant governor Jay Dardenne, whose office runs the state’s tourism industry. Dardenne, representing the state of Louisiana, accused the group of slandering the “Louisiana: Pick Your Passion” motto when it set up a billboard in the Baton Rouge area that read, “LOU!SIANA: Pick Your Passion! But hope you don’t love your health. Gov. Jindal’s denying Medicaid to 242,000 people.” According to the suit, because used the tourism campaign logo to blast an elected official, it had violated trademark laws.

Louisiana billboard, however, has refused to take down the billboard, arguing that it represents an exercise of the group’s free speech.

U.S. District Court Judge Shelly Dick sided with the organization, using the First Amendment in her rationale against Dardenne — and, by extension, Jindal.

“The State has not demonstrated a substantial likelihood of prevailing on its burden of proving confusion by viewers of the billboard,” Dick explained in her ruling. “Furthermore, the State has failed to demonstrate a compelling reason to curtail’s political speech in favor of protecting of the State’s service mark.” hailed the ruling on what the group called the state’s “baseless lawsuit.”

“Lieutenant Governor [Jay] Dardenne should apologize to the taxpayers for this waste of time and money – time and money that could have been better spent finding ways to get Louisianians access to healthcare,”’s civic action executive director, Anna Galland, said.

According to The Huffington Post, Galland says the group is “expanding our billboard campaign in Louisiana.”

The campaign – part of a larger, nationwide campaign against Republican governors who have rejected Medicaid expansion – will likely continue to ruffle feathers in the only state to actually file a lawsuit against one of these billboards.

Dardenne cannot appeal the ruling, but he can file a request for a permanent injunction. Even then, a victory would prove difficult, considering that the state would have to provide evidence of “irreparable injuries” to the state’s tourism campaign as a direct result of the organization’s exercise of free speech.

Still, Dardenne argues that “the governor does not control me or control the Office of Tourism,” and therefore “to use our brand to parody another figure” infringes on the office’s own trademark campaign.

The lieutenant governor – who might run for governor in 2015, and has said that he would not expand Medicaid under Obamacare — adds that there is a “difference” or “distinction” between his office and the governor’s.

For and proponents of the health care law, however, the ruling is a “victory for common sense,” as Galland put it.

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

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  • Lynda Groom

    Sometimes that darn old Constitution with its Bill of Rights can be so annoying. The First Amendment and all the talk about ‘free speech’ stuff. Now the good citizens of La can still read those signs and maybe, just maybe begin to recognize the screwing they’ve been getting from that Bobby fella.

    • disqus_ivSI3ByGmh

      Ah, Lynda, please remember that the Republicans will flock to the defense of the 1st Amendment when they believe anyone is threatening their right to discriminate against someone.

    • ps0rjl

      That pesky old free speech. I guess in some ways it even applies to people who are not very rich or corporations.

  • sharon1026

    They need to come to NC and do the same thing.

    • STMBT

      Not ony NC but all States especially the red states. the Democrats have to keep pointing out all the lies that the Rethuglicans keep puttin out there which will keep them on the defensive, make them spend there money defending all there bullshit lies. and billboads are a very good way to do that. people will see it every day and hopefully they will realize what is the truth,

  • elw

    Well that is nice to see. What ever made Jindal think he could takes someone else’s right to free speech away? He must be talking to his God in the mirror again.

    • Independent1

      His “god” being Satan.

      • elw

        Or the almighty dollar.

        • Independent1

          Or maybe both! When someone starts worshiping Satan, they usually end up loving money above everything else – just look at Satan’s political party – aka the GOP.

          • elw

            Who knows, all I know is that people like Jindal suck.

  • johninPCFL

    I wonder if a bunch of “Gunshine State” billboards in Florida would have any effect…

    • Sand_Cat

      Great idea!

  • Pamby50

    Was just listening to MSNBC and heard that there are over 746,000 Floridians who are eligible for medicaid under the ACA. Gov. Scott turned that money down. He needs to voted out of office along with the state representatives & senators. There is a story out there that a 32 yr old single mom died on the floor of stranger while trying to sell a vacuum cleaner. She had a documented history of heart problems. She didn’t make enough money to get into the ACA and with Medicaid not being expanded, she couldn’t see the doctors she needed nor was able to take the medication. So please go to all these crazy states that refused to accept the Medicaid expansion.

  • dpaano

    Wow….we’ll take ALL the victories we can get!

  • dana becker

    The Dems need to get billboards listing every horrible bill the Republicans have been passing from this to voting. They will need a lot of billboards.

    • Independent1

      Absolutely! And in addition to billboards, they need to get the MSM to publish everything the GOP’s horrible legislation will cause by couching everything in as negative terms as possible: e.g.,
      Ryan’s budget will be the end of Medicare and Social Security!!!
      And millions of Americans will be forced into homelessness while the wealthy will benefit from tens of thousands in tax cuts!!!
      The concept of public schools as we know them will be gone forever!!!
      The Pentagon will see budget increases like they’ve never seen before!!!