On Campaign Signs


Much has been said and written lately about the law in Sterling Heights restricting the square footage of campaign signs permitted on certain types of properties. The key sticking point of the issue is a requirement that a candidate obtain a signed consent form from a property owner to be filed with the City Clerk before erecting a sign on nonresidential property. Essentially, business property owners are forced to go on record with the city regarding their support for non-incumbent candidates.  Naturally, many are unwilling to do so.

Councilman Taylor has rightly challenged this regulation, but to little avail: the balance of Council has stated they support the law, and will not authorize the City Attorney to research the issue. Instead, some have asserted that Mr. Taylor, an attorney himself, file a brief with the city on his findings.  Mr. Taylor has stated to the press that he doubts they would receive such a brief with the intention of viewing it on its merits, and I agree with him.

My take is this: the law has a chilling effect on the free speech of political candidates and business property owners, and as such is blatantly unconstitutional.  The ordinance(s) involved should be vigorously contested in court by someone who has legal standing to do so.  In other words, someone who is a candidate for office should sue the city for redress.

Given that resources to fight this may well be beyond reach of any of the candidates who might take an interest in doing so, I would strongly suggest that someone with legal standing in the issue ask the American Civil Liberties Union for help.

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Posted on August 31, 2011, in Issues and views. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on On Campaign Signs.

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