Speech Rights Reaching Greater Security

October 19, 2004

DETROIT -- In two separate cases regarding municipal sign ordinances, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan has secured greater protection for residents of Troy and Grosse Pointe Woods.

Federal Court Judge Paul V. Gadola has issued a preliminary injunction in the case regarding enforcement of a Troy ordinance that made it a crime for residents to display  more than two political lawn signs at a time. In his opinion, Judge Gadola wrote, “All four factors, including the most important factor of a strong likelihood of success, favor Plaintiff.”

"Judge Gadola’s opinion strongly reaffirms the principle that residents have a First Amendment right to express political views at their own homes,” said ACLU Legal Director Michael J. Steinberg, who argued the case.  “An ordinance that permits residents to display unlimited Halloween decorations and numerous commercial signs, yet only two political signs, is clearly unconstitutional.”

And in the ACLU case against Grosse Pointe Woods, the city commission voted last night, as part of a settlement agreement, to rescind an ordinance that made it a crime for a resident to display any political candidate signs more than 30 days before an election.   In September, U.S. District Judge John Corbett O’Meara entered a temporary restraining order against the 30-day rule.

Kary Moss, ACLU of Michigan Executive Director, added, "I urge leaders of other cities to read this decision and to amend their sign ordinances to honor the free speech rights of their residents.  There is no reason the ACLU should have to file further sign ordinance lawsuits to force municipalities to abide by the constitution."

To read Judge Gadola's opinion, go to:  http://aclumich.org/sites/default/files/file/pdf/briefs/troyordinanceopinion.pdf