By Bob Unruh
Image courtesy Pacific Legal Foundation
A federal judge has suspended enforcement of a city’s fines against the owners of a home painted with Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” theme, ruling that such punishment would cause “immediate and irreparable injury” to the owners.
As WND reported, officials in Mount Dora, Florida, a town known for its Modernism Museum and Mount Dora Center for the Arts, were taken to court by the owners of the home.
The city already had assessed fines of $8,600, and they were going up by $100 a day.
The dispute began when a local artist approached Nancy Nemhauser and Lubek Jastrzebski about painting a wall that surrounds their house, which had been adorned with cracked and peeling paint.
They called the city’s Planning & Zoning Department and were told that there is no code for aesthetics on house paint, so no permit was required.
They then contracted with the artist to use the theme from Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” artwork.
The city then started taking an interest, and a code enforcement officer informed the couple the wall paint had to match the house, so they contracted with the painter to extend the mural to the full house.
Not good enough, the city said. Pay the fine.
But now U.S. District Judge James Moody Jr. has ordered the fines stopped and held in abeyance for 14 days, which may be extended.
“Plaintiffs have demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits of their First Amendment, Equal Protection, and Due Process claims. The city of Mount Dora would irreparably harm the plaintiffs by continuing its enforcement each day on the plaintiffs with daily growing fines and with potential imposition of a lien on the home,” he wrote.
The Pacific Legal Foundation said the most important part of the ruling was that “it shows that the judge agrees that we are Click to see the original article