Image

1:43 PM / Wednesday June 12, 2024

18 May 2024

US appeals court says Pennsylvania town’s limits on political lawn signs are unconstitutional

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
May 18, 2024 Category: Election 2024 Posted by:

ABOVE PHOTO: Campaign signs for Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania and Democratic challenger George Scott as seen on a neighborhood street in the district, Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018 in Camp Hill, Pa. A federal appeals court panel has found that a small Pennsylvania town’s ordinance designed to cut down on lawn signs is unconstitutional, saying that its resulting limitations on political lawn signs violates the free speech rights of residents. (AP Photo/Marc Levy, File)

By Marc Levy
ASSOCIATED PRESS

HARRISBURG, Pa. — A federal appeals court panel has found that a small Pennsylvania town’s ordinance designed to cut down on lawn signs is unconstitutional, saying that its resulting limitations on political lawn signs violates the free speech rights of residents.

The decision last Thursday by a three-judge panel of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling against Camp Hill Borough, a town of about 8,000 residents just outside the state capital of Harrisburg.

In the 11-page decision, Judge Stephanos Bibas rejected the borough’s arguments that its 2021 ordinance only regulated the “time, place and manner” of signs. Rather, the ordinance discriminates between types of content, is overly broad and lacks a compelling enough reason to encroach on free speech rights, Bibas wrote.

As proof of the ordinance’s regulation of content, the borough sought to impose stricter limits on noncommercial signs, such as political signs, than commercial or holiday signs, Bibas wrote.

Bibas wrote that Camp Hill’s interests in imposing the limits on signs — traffic safety and aesthetics — are legitimate, but not compelling enough to limit free speech.

“While trying to preserve aesthetics and promote traffic safety, Camp Hill stitched together a crazy quilt of a sign ordinance,” Bibas wrote. “Because it discriminates against some messages, the ordinance is unconstitutional on its face.”

Under the ordinance, residents could not put up more than two so-called “personal expression” signs for more than 60 days before an event, in this case, an election. They could not be lit up, taller than 6 feet or remain more than 30 days after the event.

The Camp Hill Borough Republican Association and two residents sued in 2022.

One resident had been told by the borough code enforcement officer that her three lawn signs — one each for Republican gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano, U.S. Senate nominee Dr. Mehmet Oz and U.S. Rep. Scott Perry — were too many. The other resident was told in August that her signs for Oz and Mastriano couldn’t be up more than 60 days before the Nov. 8 general election.

Paul Lewis, chair of the Camp Hill Borough Republican Association, called it a “powerful decision.”

“I’m glad that now two different federal courts have been on the side of the constitution and freedom of speech and freedom of expression,” Lewis said in an interview Friday. “Regardless of your political leanings, this is something that benefits you, regardless of which party you stand for and support.”

In a statement, the borough said it was disappointed with the decision “and is concerned with the potential sprawling impact it may have on the ability of the borough and other municipalities to meaningfully regulate signs in pursuit of traffic safety and aesthetics.”

A borough official said last Friday that officials hadn’t decided whether to appeal.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter

Leave a Comment

Recent News

Fur Babies Rule!

Not just the dog: How to protect yourself from ticks

June 3, 2024

Tweet Email BPT Did you know people do more to defend their pets from ticks than for...

Philly NAACP

June 9, 2024

June 10, 2024

Tweet Email Tweet Email Related Posts Philadelphia Judicial Primary Candidates At A Glance Guide Philadelphia Judicial Candidates...

Health

Knowing the signs of stroke

June 8, 2024

Tweet Email FAMILY FEATURES Stroke can happen to anyone – it happens to more than 800,000 people...

Election 2024

A year of elections in democracies around the world is revealing deep dissatisfaction among voters

June 9, 2024

Tweet Email ABOVE PHOTO: FILE – Students protest for more public university funding and against austerity measures...

Color Of Money

Things are not always what they seem: Beware of identity fraud

June 3, 2024

Tweet Email BPT Scam artists are constantly changing tactics to steal your personal identifiable information (PII), including...

Food And Beverage

Serve up a summertime spread

June 8, 2024

Tweet Email FAMILY FEATURES Few things complement warm weather like a summer spread with everyone’s favorite foods....

The Philadelphia Sunday Sun Staff