950 THE ADVOCATE
VOL. 78 PART 6 NOVEMBER 2020
from Pulver Crawford Munroe to Forte Law Corporation. Departing MEP
Business Counsel, J. Geoffrey Howard has set out his own shingle under
the name Howard Employment Law. Sebastian Chern joins him there,
moving from Sorensen Smith.
After articles at McCarthy Tétrault followed by a year of adventure,
Naeem Bardai starts up with Lakes Whyte in North Vancouver. After two
terms as a tribunal member with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal, Jacqueline
Beltgens starts Beltgens Law, which will focus on mediation, arbitration
and workplace investigations. Also setting out on a new venture, Anna
Silver and Meghan Selinger, both formerly at Hamilton Fabbro, establish
their own family law practice, Silver Selinger LLP, in Vancouver. Maryanna
T. Dinh, previously with McCarthy Tétrault, joins Hunter Litigation Chambers.
Denis G. Silva moves from Gowlings to DLA Piper. Lauren E.
McMurtry moves from the Department of Justice to Harper Grey.
In Discount Inn, Inc. v. Chicago (City), No. 14 3678 (2015), the U.S. Court of
Appeals for the Seventh Circuit considered a constitutional challenge to the
city’s “weed ordinance”, which provided that “any person who owns or controls
property within the city must cut or otherwise control all weeds on
such property so that the average height of such weeds does not exceed ten
inches”. The plaintiff inn contended that the ten-inch limit on weeds violated
the free speech clause of the First Amendment. The court noted that
“though plants do not speak, this need not exclude all gardens from the
protection of the clause, for the clause has been expanded by judicial interpretation
to embrace other silent expression, such as paintings”. The inn
was not, however, surrounded by what might qualify as a protected garden.
The court continued:
But the plaintiff’s claim that the free speech clause insulates all weeds
from public control is ridiculous. It’s not as if the plaintiff invented,
planted, nurtured, dyed, clipped, or has otherwise beautified its weeds,
or that it exhibits or intends or aspires to exhibit them in museums or
flower shows. Its weeds have no expressive dimension. The plaintiff just
doesn’t want to be bothered with having to have them clipped.
We must be careful not to impose a minimal standard of “expressiveness”
for determining when an object is art and therefore protected by the First
Amendment from government prohibition or destruction. In 1917 Marcel
Duchamp exhibited a urinal that he called “Fountain”—it is a famous
work of art, though Duchamp had not designed, built, altered, or decorated
the urinal. But Discount Inn does not claim to have added anything
to the weeds that grow on its lots—not even a name. Allowing weeds to
grow tall cannot, in and of itself, be regarded as creating works of art.
Taken to its logical extreme, the plaintiff’s defense of the weed would preclude
any efforts by local governments to prevent unsightly or dangerous