US Supreme Court Ruling on Yard Signs To Be Tested

by Arthur Piccio on 08/30/2013

by Arthur Piccio  |  August 30, 2013  |  News, What's New

Manlius, NY – August 30, 2013 (UPrinting.com) Does your town or city regulate the presence of political posters and yard signs? Early this month, a professor at Syracuse University sued the town of Manlius, New York for violating his First Amendment rights by what he claims to be a harsh regulation of his political yard signs.


Trashed Yard Signs via watchdog.org

David Rubin’s tiff with Manlius’s local government started in 2006 when town officials told him to remove political signs from his yard, citing the town’s code.

The hometown’s code, states  that “in order to preserve aesthetics and ensure traffic safety,” Rubin would not be allowed to express anything on a sign more than 4 square feet. It further states that no one may display signs for more than 30 days before an election or 7 days after within town limits. Lastly, even if a resident accepts these limitations, they are still compelled to register and get a permit  from the town clerk.

In an interview with WSYR, a local channel Rubin says “I agree that beautification is important for a town to be concerned about…It is not as important as free speech.”

Read the full complaint here

Rubin further pointed out that City of Ladue v. Gilleo, a 1994 U.S. Supreme Court case about yard signs and free speech, acts in his favor. In the landmark case,  the United States Supreme Court unanimously upheld an Appeals Court on the placement of yard signs set up by Margaret P. Gilleo, a Gulf War protester.


Justice Stevens, writing for the unanimous majority, expressed suspicion of regulations eliminating an entire form of communication, in the case of the City of Ladue v. Gilleo yard signs. The City of Ladue, MO argued regulation was permissible as restrictions on “time, place, and manner” and that residents could express themselves via other means.

Read the United States Supreme Court Decision on Ladue v. Gilleo here

The Supreme Court however found that “there were no means that would be adequate substitutes.” The City of Ladue also  pointed out that its regulation was content neutral. The Supreme Court however, found that the restrictions were still unacceptable and open to abuse.

Pic of campaign signs in Apex, North Carolina - Public Domain

Right now, it’s highly unlikely that the verdict of the City of Ladue v. Gilleo would be overturned. However, Manlius is just one of many American towns that still try to regulate signs in this manner.

So if you live in such a town and are planning to put up political banners, yard signs, or posters on your property soon, the Supreme Court is likely on your side. Is it worth the trouble Prof. Rubin took? You decide.

Other Links on This Story:

Professor Sues Town Over Yard Sign Free Speech - Campaign Freedom.org

Lawsuit Challenges Town of Manlius Rules Restricting Political Lawn Signs - Syracuse.com

Professor Sues New York Town Over Blatant Political Speech Ban - DailyCaller.com

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Arthur Piccio is UPrinting.com's Small Business and Public Relations Coordinator.

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