ACLU of Ohio Tells City Officials Their Political Sign Ordinances Unnecessarily Restrict Free Speech

Affiliate: ACLU of Ohio
September 8, 2004 12:00 am

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CLEVELAND- The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio today sent demand letters to city officials in Fairlawn and Kent regarding their political yard sign ordinances.

The cities, which are located in the Akron area, both have ordinances that restrict the dates in which residents are legally permitted to place signs in their yards. In Fairlawn, residents are not permitted to post signs 45 days prior to an election. According to one Fairlawn resident, she was also told she would need to pay a $25 permit fee to post a sign. Kent’s city law is slightly more restrictive, forbidding signs 30 days before an election

“While campaign committees and PACs spend millions to advertise year round, it is shameful that the speech of the average American, whose political expression is limited to a yard sign, should be limited to six or eight weeks a year,” said ACLU of Ohio Volunteer Attorney David Oakley. “Courts across the country have struck down similar ordinances, and I am confident that the same would happen to the Kent and Fairlawn laws,” he added.

In a typical election year, the ACLU of Ohio fields numerous calls from residents concerned that their local government is interfering with their First Amendment rights in this respect. Over the past several years, the ACLU of Ohio has been able to convince several municipalities to change their ordinances by sending demand letters. When the letters haven’t worked, the ACLU filed lawsuits on behalf of local residents.

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