A town in New Jersey has decided to drop its lawsuit against a resident who had hung several anti-Biden flags on the fence of her property, some of which included the f-word.
The story: Officials in Roselle Park, a borough near New York City which has around 13,000, ended its effort to have the woman remove the signs after the state’s chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) took up the case to represent the woman.
Roselle Park Borough Attorney Jarrid Kantor filed an application to dismiss the case and Superior Court Judge John Deitch accepted it.
The ACLU said the ruling was a victory for the First Amendment rights of the homeowner and residents in the state, NJ.com reports.
“The First Amendment exists specifically to make sure people can express strong opinions on political issues – or any other matter – without fear of punishment by the government,” NJ Executive Director Amol Sinha said in a statement. “Today’s decision confirms that our position was correct: Roselle Park had no grounds to issue fines for a political sign and the town’s use of its obscenity ordinance infringed upon fundamental rights protected by the First Amendment.
“It was an uncomplicated case,” Sinha added.
Worth noting: Roselle Park Mayor Joseph Signorello said on CNN that the costs of the legal challenge played a role in the decision.
“At the end of the day you can’t legislate decency,” he told the network. “Cost is definitely a factor here and that can’t be denied.”
How we got here: The NJ town took issue with the profane language of the signs that were put up by Andrea Dick, the daughter of Patricia Dilascio, the property owner.
The mayor said that one of the biggest issues with the signs was that young children could see them. Signorello noted that he had received multiple complaints from residents.
The city issued a notice to the homeowner that the signs violate a municipal ordinance and then a court summons a few days later but the signs remained.
Roselle Park Municipal Court Judge Gary Bundy ordered the signs to be removed and said the homeowner will be fined $250-a-day if she refuses to comply.
“This is not a case about politics. It is a case, pure and simple, about language,” Bundy said. “This ordinance does not restrict political speech. Neither this town or its laws may abridge or eliminate Ms. Dilascio’s freedom of speech. However, freedom of speech is not simply an absolute right. It is clear from state law and statutes that we cannot simply put up the umbrella of the First Amendment and say everything and anything is protected speech.”
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