A New York man has won a battle with the New York Department of Transportation over a trailer he parked on his private property along a public highway that was targeted because of its Christian message.
Daniel Burritt installed a tractor-trailer for his company, Acts II Construction Inc., on private business property along U.S. Route 11 in 2007.
In May he got a letter from the New York State Department of Transportation stating that his trailer violated a state law and constituted a “public nuisance.” The NYDOT said a permit had to be obtained or the trailer would be forcibly removed and legal action would follow, even though the agency does not require permits for commercial messages being displayed.
Burritt’s legal counsel objected to the NYDOT’s requirement for a permit, saying it penalized him because of his faith.
“Christians shouldn’t be singled out and penalized for sharing their beliefs,” Alliance Defense Fund Legal Counsel Matt Bowman said. “We are pleased the court recognizes that displaying a religious message on private property has always been protected under the First Amendment.”
Bowman said the state violated the Constitution by treating religion in a less favorable manner than business, because it did not take into account that a central aspect of the Burritt’s construction business is evangelism.
ADF attorneys filed suit on behalf of Burritt in June and reached an agreement with the NYDOT to allow the trailer to stay until a decision could be reached. A state district court decision now has ordered the state to allow the sign to remain.