Political Speech in Bars and Restaurants

March 07, 2013

During the 2012 election year the ACLU began to receive complaints that the Michigan Liquor Control Commission was enforcing an old administrative regulation that prohibits bars and restaurants from posting political ads anywhere on their property. Signs about sports teams and beer were allowed, but a sign that said “Vote for Mitt Romney” or “Re-elect Barack Obama” were prohibited.

In 2012 the ACLU of Michigan filed a First Amendment lawsuit on behalf of the owners of Ann Arbor’s popular Aut Bar, who wanted to post a sign encouraging patrons to vote for a progressive candidate in a local judicial race.

After the lawsuit was filed, the Liquor Commission agreed to immediately stop enforcing the rule, and it was formally rescinded in March 2013.

(Contreras v. Deloney; ACLU Legal Director Michael J. Steinberg; Cooperating Attorney Genevieve Scott.)

To view the full 2013-2014 Legal Docket, click here.