Citing First Amendment, ACLU of Ohio Urges Local Officials to Revise Political Sign Ordinance

Affiliate: ACLU of Ohio
February 10, 2004 12:00 am

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CLEVELAND – Saying that the city of Willowick’s requirements regarding political signage violate residents’ free speech rights, the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio today urged officials to revise its sign ordinance to comply with constitutional standards.

The policy requires residents of Willowick — a city of nearly 15,000 located 17 miles east of Cleveland — to remit a deposit of $100 dollars before any political sign can be displayed. The city recently removed a political sign from the yard of a resident who failed to post the deposit.

“”The City of Willowick has clearly overstepped its bounds in regulating the use of signs,”” said Erin Reiffer of the ACLU of Ohio. “”This permit scheme is patently unconstitutional, and should not be allowed to continue.””

Cities are allowed to place some reasonable restrictions on the time, manner and place that political signs are displayed. However, the courts have struck down many such limitations as unacceptable encroachments on free speech rights.

The ACLU has battled local governments for 40 years over the fundamental right of political speech. Local governments frequently try to regulate the use of signs for political speech during election season for various reasons that are not legitimate, from their aesthetic impact on neighborhoods to political reasons, the ACLU said.

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