Farris Lind had built his business on humor. Suddenly, in 1965 someone wanted to throw a bucket of cold water all over the most visible part of his funny business. That someone was Claudia Alta Johnson, better known as First Lady “Ladybird” Johnson.
The Highway Beautification Act (HBA) of 1965 was Ladybird Johnson’s signature issue. She and her supporters were getting tired of the proliferation of billboards alongside federal highways in the United States. The act prohibited most outdoor advertising along Interstate and federal highways and required removal or screening of junkyards in highway viewsheds.
The law threatened a key component of Farris Lind's success. In 1969, he sued the State of Idaho because the Legislature had passed laws to bring the state into compliance with the HBA. Signs were not allowed within 660 feet of a federal highway right-of-way. Lind said, "The federal and state government have no right to deprive a farmer or other landowner of any rental income he can get from signs on his property. I owe it to myself to take a swing at bureaucracy" (Capital Journal, December 12, 1969).
For signs on private property, Lind was paying $10-$15 a month rental. Some signs were on property he'd purchased.
The lawsuit asked that the highway beautification law be declared unconstitutional. Lind contended that it was unconstitutional because it prohibited the right to conduct a lawful business and impaired contractual arrangements Lind had with landowners.
The suit didn't gain any traction, and most of the signs came down, ending a run of about 25 years of memorable advertising.
Note that you can learn much more about Fearless Farris, an Idaho Original, by reading my book about him which you can order on this page.