Lawsuit filed over mural featuring vulgar Trump quotes

This Nov. 5, 2017 photo provided by Neal Morris shows a mural on his property in New Orleans, La. On Tuesday, March 13, 2018, the American Civil Liberties Union went to court for Morris who says he's been ordered to remove the large mural that features infamous Donald Trump quotes from a 2005 "Access Hollywood" recording. A federal court lawsuit says Morris was ordered by the city to remove the mural soon after it was painted in November. (Neal Morris via AP)

NEW ORLEANS — A New Orleans resident was unlawfully ordered to remove a large mural featuring infamous Donald Trump quotes from a 2005 "Access Hollywood" recording, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday.

The mural is, in effect, a partial transcript of the recording that surfaced during the 2016 presidential race. In the recording, the future president is heard boasting about grabbing women's private parts and describing a woman's breasts in vulgar terms.

The mural, painted on a fence in a mostly residential area of modest houses, has black letters on a white background. It substitutes images for some of the words. For instance, instead of the vulgar term Trump used for breasts, it depicts a pair of bare breasts. It is located on the property of New Orleans resident Neal Morris.

The ACLU's lawsuit says Morris was ordered by the city to remove the mural soon after it was painted in November.

The city's Nov. 8 memo to Morris, a copy of which is in the court filing, did not mention the mural's content, but noted that New Orleans' zoning ordinance doesn't allow murals in residential zones. The memo added that Morris could be fined or jailed if he didn't remove it.

The ACLU's suit argues that the city's permitting requirements for murals involve advance government approval "using unspecified standards, by undesignated officials, for an indefinite period of time." That, and the payment of exorbitant fees, constitute "a multipronged assault on the First and Fourteenth Amendments," the lawsuit said.

Morris sought information in October on how to get a permit, but officials "were unable to provide the requested information," the suit said.

Mayoral spokesman Craig Belden said city officials are reviewing the lawsuit before deciding how to respond.

The mural is currently covered, Bruce Hamilton, a lawyer for the ACLU Foundation of Louisiana, said Tuesday.

The lawsuit seeks an order prohibiting the city from enforcing its mural-permitting regulations, and a declaration that the rules are unconstitutional.

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