Rear Left

Union Rat Defeats New Jersey Township

Posted in Media & Movements, The Law is an Ass by rearleft on February 6, 2009

In a decisive victory for giant inflatable rats across the United States, the New Jersey Supreme Court has ruled that a local law which was being invoked in an attempt to ban the use of the 20 foot tall inflatable rat violates the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers‘ right to free speech under the First Amendment.

The Court rightly noted that the giant inflatable is a form of media, and that to differentiate between one inflatable which promotes a car lot and another which promotes a labor dispute would be a value judgment on the content of the media, not its legitimacy as a form of communication.

5. The Court agrees with the dissenting Appellate Division judge that a sign ordinance that prohibits a union from displaying a rat balloon, while at the same time authorizing a similar display at a grand opening, is content-based. Under the ordinance, the authorization of a sign is justified only by reference to the person or entity displaying the sign. Because the sign ordinance favors commercial over non-commercial speech and because a violation of the ordinance is based on the purpose for which the sign is displayed, that ordinance is content-based. (pp. 12-13)

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