A Home’s Architecture Isn’t Protected ‘Free Speech’?


Declaring he experienced a “free speech” proper to tear down a mansion and build the mid-century present day house of his goals, a Palm Beach front man went to court docket. He lost in appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court docket refused to reconsider that choice.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The U.S. Supreme Courtroom on Monday refused to take up an appeal by a telecommunications entrepreneur who contended his First Amendment legal rights were being violated when programs for a mansion ended up turned down in Palm Beach front.

The court docket, as is widespread, did not demonstrate its good reasons for turning down the case submitted by Donald Burns, who utilized in 2014 to tear down a 10,063-square-foot oceanfront residence and replace it with a bigger mansion with a “mid-century modern” design, in accordance to courtroom files.

Burns submitted a federal lawsuit soon after Palm Beach’s Architectural Review Fee turned down the plan. He went to the Supreme Court docket soon after a sharply divided panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court docket of Appeals very last year rejected arguments that his First Modification rights experienced been violated.

In a petition submitted in November, Burns’ lawyers wrote that the proposed design and style “communicated that his new home would be clean up, refreshing, unbiased and contemporary – a reflection of his progressed philosophy of simplicity in life-style and living with an emphasis on fewer private possessions, and communicated his information that he was one of a kind and unique from his neighbors. The common style of his property no more time mirrored his views or his identification.

“Architectural design, specifically the design and style of one’s own household, is an expressive sort of art that can – and for Burns’ proposed style and design, should really – be entitled to robust 1st Amendment protection,” the petition explained.

But lawyers for the town disputed that the case presented Initially Amendment problems and urged the Supreme Court docket to reject it. A temporary submitted by the town final month said Burns sought to build a just about 20,000 sq.-foot home.

“Petitioner’s ongoing effort to invoke basic constitutional legal rights in an otherwise straightforward zoning situation involving the municipal denial of a new, oversized home on an undersized great deal in accordance with said architectural overview requirements fails to present any grounds for review by this (Supreme) Courtroom,” the short stated. “This court docket has never ever reviewed zoning requirements with the better degree of scrutiny supplied essential rights safeguarded by the 1st Modification.”

Burns sold the house as the lawsuit played out, but he continued to have standing to go after it since of “significant monetary damages,” in accordance to the petition submitted by his attorneys.

Burns drew support at the Supreme Courtroom from two libertarian companies, the Goldwater Institute and the Cato Institute, and from the National Association of Household Builders of the United States.

The groups argued in mate-of-the-court docket briefs that architecture is a kind of expression shielded by the Initially Amendment, citing famed architects this kind of as Frank Lloyd Wright.

“This court has by no means particularly addressed the status of architecture as expressive perform,” lawyers for the house builders association wrote. “Amicus (the affiliation) thinks that architecture is expressive carry out secured by the First Modification, no distinctive than other mediums portraying or if not involving architecture, such as Edward Hopper’s painting ‘House by the Railroad’… or the Simon & Garfunkel tune, ‘So Long Frank Lloyd Wright.’”

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