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An Inflatable Mario and a Free-Speech Lawsuit

The owner of a video game store is angry he can no longer display the Nintendo icon.

When James Madison wrote in the First Amendment that Congress shall make no law “abridging the freedom of speech,” surely he knew that one day the owner of a video-game store would cite his words in a lawsuit challenging the government’s right to ban a giant inflatable Super Mario. 

Scott Fisher says the town of Orange Park, Florida, threatened to fine him $100 per day last summer if he kept the promotional Mario outside of Gone Broke Gaming, according to WJXT.

Fisher complied, but said that not having Mario out front has hurt business—and violated his free-speech rights. So, on Thursday, with the help of a conservative legal organization named Institute for Justice, Fisher sued Orange Park, arguing that the town’s ban on inflatables such as Mario is unconstitutional because it allows some inflatables—those erected for the holidays, for example—but not those that are intended to promote a business. 

“The best idea wins,” Fisher told WJXT. ”There could be three or four video game stores in the local area, but if I happen to have the idea to put a Mario in front of mine and it draws more business, that’s exactly what the First Amendment is there to protect.”

Madison would probably have to agree. Censored political speech is nothing compared with the right to display a 9-foot Nintendo icon that’s full of hot air.