Hillsborough County Circuit Court Judge Rex Barbas denied a request for an injunction against Hillsborough County from removing the Confederate monument currently standing outside of the county courthouse annex.
However, he has not outright dismissed their case.
Barbas wrote in his ruling that the plaintiffs – which includes Save Southern Heritage, Veterans’ Monuments of America and five other individuals — needed “a likelihood of irreparable harm; unavailability of an adequate legal remedy; a substantial likelihood of succeeding on the merits; and considerations of the public interest support the entry of the injunction.”
He wrote that all four elements had to be established to support the granting of the injunction, and that upon further review, “they have not established the four elements necessary to entitle them to relief.”
The groups filed the lawsuit a day after the county said that the monument would be removed, which came after the public provided the funds the County Commission had decided would be required to move the 106-year-old monument.
“The County’s argument is that it has the authority to remove the memorial because the Free Speech Clause only restricts the government regulation of private speech; it does not regulate government speech. Our argument is that the motion is unconstitutionally broad because it does regulate private speech because the motion indefinitely prohibits the memorial from being placed on any property owned by Hillsborough County government,” Save Southern Heritage member Justin Waters writes in an email. “The problem is that the Tampa Bay History Center is a private 501(c)(3) nonprofit that leases its land from Hillsborough County on a 33 year lease, so the motion also unconstitutionally restricts the right of the History Center and other private parties who lease County owned land. The government speech doctrine does not apply to speech made by private parties, and the U.S. Supreme Court is clear that a law is unconstitutional if it results in invalid applications to third parties.”