Seeing how it’s Sunday and always a slow day in the blogosphere world, thought I’d toss out something for you to chew on. After you read and watch what’s going on in this man’s life…see if you think he will win or lose the good fight he’s taking on. After-all, it’s ‘Freedom of Speech‘ and the ‘First Amendment‘ he’s dealing with here!
Every American understands that, of all the types of speech protected under the First Amendment, that speech which is given the highest protection is political speech. Well, not every American. The authorities in Gaines Township, Michigan, have a rule that signs with political messages must be limited to 20 square feet. By contrast, they say commercial signs can be 35 square feet. One man is determined to lead Gaines Township back to core constitutionalism.
Vern Verduin is a cattle farmer who believes that President Obama’s political goals are destructive and inconsistent with American values. He’s therefore parked two truck trailers on his property and posted two political messages:
Marxism/Socialism = Poverty & hunger
Obama’s ‘mission accomplished.’ 8% unemployment. 16 trillion debt.
Like commercial billboards, the signs are easy for passing drivers to see – and authorities in Gaines Township don’t like that. They are insisting that the signs violate a zoning ordinance that prohibits political signs larger than 20 square feet. The irony of this speech limitation, however, is that the same zoning laws allowing people to display a sign up to 32 feet square for the purpose of “selling ideas.” It doesn’t seem to occur to the Township that the ultimate “idea” is political thought.
Verduin has hired attorney Howard Van Den Huevel to help protect his free speech rights. Van Den Huevel is optimistic about the case’s outcome, telling a local news station that “This is clearly a violation of his free speech and free exercise right.”
As part of their challenge, Verduin and Van Den Huevel also plan to attack that part of the ordinance that seeks to put a time limit on political speech. Gaines Township allows political signs only 45 days before and 10 days after an election.
Good intentions sometimes lead to bad outcomes. In its pursuit of beauty and its attempt to preserve peace between citizens of differing political stripes, the Township has enacted laws inconsistent with the First Amendment’s promise that government may not make any law “abridging the freedom of speech.”
So, friends…what do you think about all of this? Will Vern win or lose…any bets?
UPDATE: Vern Verduin wins the good fight he fought!
‘Farmer Wins Right to Display Anti-Obama Signs On His Own Property‘ – H/T to ga steve.
Fire Away – Inquiring Minds Want to Know!