On the heels of our article about Nassau County, NY suing the Platinum Strip Club for too sexy a sign on Rockaway Blvd. In Queens, comes a decision today from the New Jersey Supreme Court. It held that a municipality violated free speech rights by banning temporary signs on public streets, including a 10-foot-high inflatable rat at a labor protest.
The unanimous court, in State v. DeAngelo, A-73-07, called a Lawrence Township ordinance -- which prohibited "banners, pennants, streamers ... portable signs, balloons or other inflated signs (except grand opening signs)" -- unduly restrictive of speech and expression.
The ordinance "is content-based, does not fairly advance any governmental interest, and is not narrowly tailored to prevent no more than the exact source of that evil it seeks to remedy," Justice John Wallace Jr. wrote for the court.
In Thursday's ruling, Wallace said DeAngelo's protest was protected by the state and federal constitutions, as to both content and location. He cited U.S. Supreme Court precedents holding that public streets, parks and sidewalks are traditionally public forums that occupy a "special position in terms of First Amendment protection" and that government cannot restrict expressive activity in such venues without a "compelling reason."
There you have it. His decision is in line with the South Carolina ruling cited in our article, granting a strip club in Columbus an injunction against a city’s would be sign ordinance. It is so important to share this here, because in Broward, with its 26 municipalities, overzealous and inexperienced city commissioners frequently attempt comparable restrictions.
Ultimately, they are proven illegal, and taxpayers wind up underwriting enormous legal bills as a result of foolish and partisan political agendas, which circumvent political realities. Then Bob Norman has to expose them in New Times. So when you vote for city commissioners next week try remembering that you are voting for people whose decisions might wind up taking money out of your pockets. Vote thoughtfully, look at the ties they have, the supporters backing them, and the past they bring to the table. Make sure they come with hands reaching out to your community, instead of ones reaching into your pockets.
Our previous article is here: