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Big Win in Jindal Billboard Lawsuit: Our Billboard Is Staying Up

MoveOn’s Billboard Lampooning Gov. Jindal for Denying Health Care to 242,000 Will Stay Up After Court Rejects Louisiana’s Bid for Preliminary Injunction

Moments ago, Judge Shelly D. Dick of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana issued a ruling in Dardenne v MoveOn rejecting the state of Louisiana’s attempt to force MoveOn.org to take down a billboard criticizing Gov. Bobby Jindal for denying health care to 242,000 Louisianians.

In her ruling, Judge Dick concluded, “the Lieutenant Governor underestimates the intelligence and reasonableness of people viewing the billboard.”

Judge Dick held that:

“The State has not demonstrated a substantial likelihood of prevailing on its burden of proving confusion by viewers of the billboard. Furthermore, the State has failed to demonstrate a compelling reason to curtail MoveOn.org.’s political speech in favor of protecting of the State’s service mark. Finally, the State failed to demonstrate that injunctive relief is required to ameliorate irreparable injury. There has been no showing of irreparable injury to the State.”

Anna Galland, executive director of MoveOn.org Civic Action, had the following response to the judge’s ruling:

“This decision is a victory for common sense, freedom of speech, and the 242,000 Louisianians being denied health care because of Governor Jindal and Louisiana Republicans’ outrageous refusal to let them access Medicaid. What it means is, our billboard is staying up.

“While we are pleased with today’s outcome, it’s a shame that the state filed this baseless lawsuit in the first place — which nearly every lawyer with basic knowledge of the First Amendment said they’d lose. Lt. Gov. 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 health care.

“For us, this campaign has never been primarily about a billboard, or freedom of speech. It is about expanding access to health care and exposing the fact that Governor Jindal, in an effort to appease the far right-wing element of his party in advance of a likely 2016 run for the White House, has denied 242,000 Louisianians health care coverage. That decision shows that Governor Jindal cares more about politics than people.

“We will not be intimidated or silenced in our campaign to bring health care to Americans who need it. The truth is that denying health care to 242,000 Louisianians and 5 million Americans is a choice that Governor Jindal and Republican governors and legislators across the country are making – and for no good reason.

“Medicaid expansion would be fully funded by the federal government for three years, and then at least 90 percent of the funding would be guaranteed to come from the federal government forever. By saying no to this money, what Governor Jindal is doing is essentially taxing the people of Louisiana to pay for Medicaid for people in other states, but refusing to allow Louisianians to reap the benefits.

“242,000 isn’t just a statistic. It’s a number that represents the real stories of real people, like MoveOn member Veronica Russell, who lives in New Orleans, and earns just above the threshold to be eligible for traditional Medicaid, yet falls into the gap where she earns too little to receive subsidies for health care on the marketplace. So now she’s stuck without health care.

“That’s outrageous. If you work hard, if you contribute to society in the richest country on earth, you ought to be able to access health care. And one of the great things about the Affordable Care Act was that it finally gave people like Veronica an opportunity to get covered. But state officials like Governor Jindal continue to stand in the way.

“We are doubling down on our campaign to ensure every American has access to health care. We are expanding our billboard campaign in Louisiana. And we will will not rest until Governor Jindal and all of the other Republicans blocking access to Medicaid get out of the way.”