E. Texas 10 Commandments sign could change state law - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

E. Texas 10 Commandments sign could change state law

Jeannette Golden's 10 Commandments Sign in Sabine County (Source: KTRE Staff) Jeannette Golden's 10 Commandments Sign in Sabine County (Source: KTRE Staff)
Jeannette Golden (Source: KTRE Staff) Jeannette Golden (Source: KTRE Staff)
SABINE COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - A legal challenge over an East Texas homeowner's 10 Commandments sign could potentially prompt a change in Texas law. Right now, the Texas Department of Transportation prohibits any signs that display personal opinions on private property if they're within certain distances of interstate or primary highways.“I don't know that I’m doing anything illegal, and I’m just standing up for what I believe,” said Jeannette Golden in April.

Last August, Golden placed a sign on her 28 acre property located on Highway 21 near Hemphill. Three months later, Golden received a letter from the Department of Transportation requesting that she remove the sign.

“They said that we did not meet the regulations,” she said.

Specifically, TxDOT stated the sign was in violation of a state law passed to comply with the Federal Highway Beautification Act.

Golden's attorney submitted a demand letter to TxDot seeking a retraction of that removal notice.

In a statement he gave to KLTV, he stated, “It is outrageous that TxDOT would allow commercial speech while not allowing for private speech on private property. This law is unconstitutional and violates Texas and federal law.”

Following the demand letter, the Texas Transportation Commission proposed a rule change to allow signs such as Golden's as long as they are smaller than 96 square feet.

Texas State Representative Dan Flynn, a proponent of the change, says the rule is constitutionally invalid.

“It certainly appears that they were wanting to restrict her ability to have freedom of speech and express her religious freedoms… It's a private property right and also it’s a freedom of speech [issue] and I’ve been involved with freedom of religious expression and if someone wants to put a sign up on their private property, they should be able to do it,” he said.

The Texas Transportation Commission will vote on the proposal after a public comment period which closes on July 14.

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