Three Municipalities Agree to Protect the Free Speech of Their Residents

September 23, 2004

DETROIT -- The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan is pleased that several municipalities on the west side of the state will be changing city ordinances to comply with the Constitutional right to display political signs on private property.

After the ACLU informed Lincoln Township, St. Joseph Township and the City of Allegan that they are not in compliance with the law, all three municipalities have agreed not to enforce their current ordinances and have conveyed their intention to review and amend the ordinances as necessary to comply with law.

“We’re gratified that these cities understand the seriousness of this issue and have responded so quickly to the ACLU’s notice,” said Jim Rodbard, ACLU President and Kalamazoo resident. The importance of free speech, particularly during a political season, must outweigh notions of aesthetics which appear to drive many of these ordinances.” 

The most recent ruling is a result of a challenge to a Grosse Pointe Woods sign ordinance under which a resident was charged for having a Kerry-Edwards sign in her front yard more than 30 days prior to the election.  A U.S. District Court judge issued a temporary restraining order on September 16 in that case.  Another successful challenge was brought by the ACLU against a Warren, MI a sign ordinance in 1996.  The ACLU is currently considering lawsuits in other municipalities that also have unconstitutional sign ordinances in violation of the free speech rights of residents.

To read the federal court decision on the Warren case, go to: http://aclumich.org/sites/default/files/file/pdf/briefs/dimasvcityofwarren.pdf

To read the temporary restraining order in the Grosse Pointe Woods case, go to: http://aclumich.org/sites/default/files/file/pdf/briefs/gpwtro.pdf