A U.S. district judge rejected Monday the Louisiana state government’s request that MoveOn.org’s billboard criticizing Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) for not expanding Medicaid under Obamacare be taken down. The billboard includes a parody of the state’s tourism slogan, which was the basis for the state’s legal action.
U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick issued the order. Lawyers for Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne (R), who filed the suit, had “not demonstrated a substantial likelihood of prevailing on its burden of proving confusion by viewers of the billboard,” Dick wrote. She rejected the state’s request for a preliminary injunction, which asked that the billboard be taken down as the court case continues.
“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,” she continued. “There has been no showing of irreparable injury to the State.”
The controversy started last month when Dardenne sent a cease-and-desist letter to MoveOn.org, the liberal organization that paid for the billboard, ordering that it be taken down. He argued that the billboard — which spoofs the state’s “Pick Your Passion” slogan — was confusing and violated the state’s trademark.
MoveOn refused, sparking a bitter battle between the group and the state. MoveOn launched a TV ad campaign against Jindal for not expanding Medicaid, which would cover more than 200,000 Louisianans, and for attempting to get the billboard removed. Jindal retaliated with a factually questionable newspaper op-ed criticizing the organization.
Dardenne can choose to continue the suit, but as Dick’s ruling indicates, the presiding judge clearly has reservations about the state’s case.