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Foundation wants D.C. AG to be held in contempt for violating order in postering regulation case

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Jun 4, 2013

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) -- A non-profit political advocacy foundation is asking a federal judge to order the District of Columbia -- and its attorney general, Irvin Nathan -- to explain why it should not be held in contempt for not complying with a November order in a long-running dispute over postering regulations.

In his order, Chief Judge Royce Lamberth of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia struck down a District law regulating how long political signs can remain on the city's lampposts.

The District calculates how long posters may remain affixed differently, based on whether the poster "relates to an event."

In his order, Lamberth said the law violated the First Amendment. It was unconstitutionally vague and gave the city too much discretion, he said.

The Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation, in its 30-page motion filed last week, argues that the city has failed to comply with the judge's order.

Specifically, the foundation contends the District has refused to repeal the regulations.

Now, it wants Lamberth to order the city to explain why it should not be held in contempt for doing so.

"Just this month, when MASF posters were registered with the District's Public Space Regulation Administration, enforcement officials advised that signs would be removed and fines and penalties would be levied if MASF's signs remained posted for more than 30 days after a date referenced in the content of the material," the foundation wrote in its May 28 motion.

The District, the foundation notes, has sought no stay of the order and no stay has been entered.

"The District's Office of Attorney General asserts an unfortunately familiar position and lack of candor in refusing to comply with the Court's Order," it wrote, asking Lamberth to enforce his existing injunction barring enforcement of the regulations.

The foundation also is asking the judge to issue an order to show cause why the District should not be held in contempt -- and sanctioned -- for having defied his order and injunction.

Click here to read the foundation's full motion.

According to The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times, Nathan said last month that the judge's order did not require the city to repeal the regulations.

The attorney general told BLT in a statement Monday that the city has complied "faithfully" with the court's order and that his office plans to file a response to the foundation's "meritless" motion.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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