The Center’s letter outlines case precedent supporting its position that Westover’s sign ordinance infringes upon both the owner’s and the political candidate’s First Amendment rights. Center urges West Virginia Mayor to Stop Infringing on Residents' Constitutional Right to Free Speech

In response to several calls from concerned citizens in Westover, West Virginia, the Center for Individual Freedom faxed a letter on April 18, 2002, to Westover Mayor Suzanne Riffon Kenney, urging her to reconsider her crusade to remove signs from the private property of residents and requesting that the local legislative body amend its sign ordinance to comport with constitutional protections.

The sign ordinance, passed in 1957, stipulates that a temporary sign permit must be obtained before posting any sign within city limits. The permit, which comes in the form of a sticker that must be displayed at all times, costs $3 per printed side of a sign and is valid for up to 30 days. Mayor Kenney, in her zealousness to enforce the ordinance, has been ordering the removal of all "unauthorized" signs, including those found on private property, and whose messages range from commercial speech, such as advertising weight loss programs, to political speech, such as advocating the election of a candidate. It has been suggested that the real intent of the effort is to curtail campaign communications by some local candidates.

The Center’s letter outlines case precedent supporting its position that Westover’s sign ordinance infringes upon both the owner’s and the political candidate’s First Amendment rights. Suspect provisions include content-based exemptions for some commercial signs, fee and permit requirements that constitutes a tax on speech, and overbroad and vague provisions relating to political yard signs.

Local radio and television stations are reporting on the Mayor’s crusade and the Center continues to receive calls for help from outraged Westover citizens who feel helpless against their government. We are hopeful that this will be settled without litigation so that the taxpayers do not have to foot the bill for this nonsense. To read the letter, click here.

2002
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