Jump to content

Sign in to follow this  
News Feeds

City abandons penalties over 'For Sale' signs

Recommended Posts

ForSale.jpg

 

A California city caught imposing a content restriction on free speech inside its borders is now backing away from its ordinance.

 

Officials with the Pacific Legal Foundation had sued over the restriction, and now have confirmed the city is fixing the issue.

 

“In response to the federal First Amendment lawsuit filed last month by Pacific Legal Foundation and San Juan Capistrano resident Michael Cefali, the city is poised to abolish its ordinance – San Juan Capistrano Municipal Code § 4-6.311(a) – that forbids the display of ‘For Sale’ signs in cars parked on public streets,” the organization reported.

 

The decision already is made, but it will just take a bit of time for the requisite votes to be held to repeal the limit.

 

“The city is making the right move in repealing this law, because the ordinance collides head-on with the Constitution,” said PLF Principal Attorney Larry Salzman.

 

“The First Amendment forbids government from banning signs or penalizing speech simply because it doesn’t like the content. The government can’t ban a ‘For Sale’ sign while allowing other messages, such as political signs. Some people may not like ‘For Sale’ signs in parked cars, but individuals have a right to communicate truthfully with the public – even when that communication is an advertisement.

 

“We hope this case will send a message to other cities that continue to enforce unconstitutional sign bans: Repeal them now or risk being served with an embarrassing and expensive lawsuit.”

 

“The Death of Free Speech: How Our Broken National Dialogue Has Killed the Truth and Divided America” examines how the news media has created arbitrary, biased and illogical rules for determining what can and cannot be said in the public arena.

 

In a statement released by his lawyers, Cefali said he was pleased with the result.

 

“Whenever there is a victory for First Amendment freedoms, even if that victory is local and relatively low-profile, everyone’s rights become a little bit more secure. It took a little prod for the city to do the right thing, but after Pacific Legal Foundation helped me file the suit, the city council acted quickly and decisively to correct the problem.”

 

Only last month WND reported Cefali, who wanted to sell a late-model Volkswagen, put a sign in the window and instead of a buyer, got a $50 fine for violating San Juan Capistrano’s ban on posting those words in a vehicle on a public street.

 

In response, he filed a federal lawsuit over the decision by the California city to censor speech.

 

“The Supreme Court has repeatedly said that government cannot favor some messages over others based on their content,” said Salzman.

 

“Yet that’s what San Juan Capistrano is doing by censoring ‘for-sale’ signs in parked cars. If Michael had put a different sign in his car – a political sign, or an advertisement for a garage sale – that would be OK with the city. But because his sign advertised his car for sale, he is being punished.

 

“This kind of discriminatory restriction on speech collides with the Constitution, so we’re asking a court to strike it down,” he said.

 

The city at that time told Cefali that it routinely enforces the speech restriction. And while he paid the fine, he wasn’t happy, and pursued the First Amendment case in court.

 

The city’s law, San Juan Capistrano Municipal Code 4-6.311 (a), is the target of the lawsuit filed recently in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

 

Cefali’s story:

 

 

Assisting in the case were students from a PLF-sponsored litigation clinic program at the Dale E. Fowler School of Law at Chapman University.

 

“San Juan Capistrano is sideswiping First Amendment rights by forbidding people from using a simple sign to communicate that their car is for sale,” said Salzman.

 

“The Death of Free Speech: How Our Broken National Dialogue Has Killed the Truth and Divided America” examines how the news media has created arbitrary, biased and illogical rules for determining what can and cannot be said in the public arena.

 

Continue reading...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×

Important Information

Your Privacy Is Important To Us Learn More: Privacy Policy