Court Rules Racy Billboards Can Remain
"If you're not looking for these types of shops, the billboard shouldn't matter to you," Fry said.
But sex shop billboards do matter to Sen. Matt Bartle, a Republican from Lee's Summit. Bartle sponsored the bill, and Gov. Blunt signed it, in 2004. The law prohibits cabaret or adult store billboards within one mile of a state highway. Businesses within a mile of a highway faced restrictions on the size of their signs and what information they displayed.
"I wasn't sure on how many levels we would go to, but as far as I know the Constitution is still in effect, and this was clearly in violation of it," said Gene Greuender, owner of Passions, one of mid-Missouri's more visibile sex shops. A Federal Court of Appeals agreed on Monday, ruling the law is unconstitutional.
"I spent 10 years in the Army supposedly protecting these rights, so I have a little more incentive than most to not roll over and let them bulldoze us," Greuender added.
The appeals court ruling means the billboards will continue to stand in the face. But, for some like Galin Fry who see them everyday, it remains a non-issue.
"Everywhere you look, there's billboards, advertisements, something," he said. "So they have a right to advertise their business."
Attorney General Jay Nixon wants a rehearing in front of the full appeals court later this week, in hopes of pushing the sex shop billboards away from major highways.