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Bedford, Indiana is facing a lawsuit that was filed on Monday by the ACLU on behalf of one of the towns own residents. Samuel Shaw of Bedford is claiming that a newly passed city ordinance is prohibiting his expression and violating the first and fourteenth amendments of the US Constitution.

The town recently enacted a city ordinance restricting the use of yard signs on residential properties which the ACLU states that the Citys Ordinance has several provisions that violate the Constitution, including:

  • a provision prohibiting permanent non-governmental signs on residential properties and imposing an unconstitutionally vague and content-based definition of what constitutes a “temporary” sign;
  • a content-based provision imposing temporal and quantity restrictions that depend on whether the sign is advertising a special event, an open house, or the sale or rental of a property;
  • a nonconformity provision that incorporates content-based restrictions from a prior ordinance that are unconstitutional; and
  • a provision that limits the number of signs with an unregulated message to one outdoor sign, and one small sign in a resident’s window.

Last month Shaw received a letter from the city’s planning and zoning director after he had placed several signs in his yard that expressed his opinions about political candidates and topical issues. The letter informed him that he was violating the ordinance and that he would have to pay the fine of $300 per day if the signs were not removed from his property.

According to Jan Mensz, an ACLU staff attorney, “The Ordinance’s limitation of one general use sign on a resident’s lawn is a particularly oppressive during election time when citizens wish to voice their support and opposition for multiple candidates and political issues.”

The case was filed yesterday, Oct. 31, 2016 in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, New Albany Divison, Case No. 4:16-cv-00190-SEB-TAB.

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