One way that people often show their support is through political signage in their yards, everyone has the right to free speech and expression. During the summer before the 2008 presidential election, the ACLU of Nebraska helped Lincoln citizens freely display their political support for that presidential election.
The ACLU of Nebraska had received numerous calls complaining that the city of Lincoln was actually confiscating signs from yards. In some cases, the city was handing out warning tickets directing Nebraskans to get rid of the political sign or face a charge of $500. At the time, the city prohibited signs from being displayed until a month before elections.
Under the 8th Circuit’s ruling, such sign limitations violate free speech protections. So when we found out about this, we immediately contacted the city to advise them that their city laws were not enforceable.
“These sorts of cases are classic examples of stupid government,” said ACLU of Nebraska Legal Director Amy Miller. “They are literally wasting city resources to chase after ‘criminals’ whose crime is only expressing themselves on their own property.”
Unfortunately, many cities continue to have local ordinances that prohibit and try to regulate sign usage. In this case, it was as easy as contacting city officials to let them know they were in the wrong – but that’s not always the case. We will continue to fight for all Nebraskans’ rights of speech and expression!
We’ve successfully negotiated with cities including Omaha, Bellevue, Grand Island, Central City, Hastings, and Gothenburg to ensure residents were able to display their election signs without fear of prosecution. If you’re facing a local ordinance that affects your rights, contact us here.