According to court paper, an officer arrived and told Lefemine he was causing a traffic disturbance and that he must "remove the signs." He did as instructed, but later filed suit against Sheriff Dan Wideman with the help of the National Legal Foundation, a self-described "Christian public interest law firm" in Virginia Beach, Va.
A federal judge in Greenville, S.C. agreed that the 1st Amendment guaranteed Lefemine's right to the "display of graphic signs," so long as he did not cause a traffic disturbance. But the judge also shielded the sheriff and city officials from paying damages in the case.
He also denied attorney's fees to Lefemine. The U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the judge’s decision in March.
Without hearing arguments in the case, the Supreme Court reversed the rulings and said Lefemine was due civil rights fees as the "prevailing party" in his suit against the sheriff.