ACLU Questions Upper Arlington’s Removal of Signs Critical of Government From Private Yards
COLUMBUS—The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio sent a letter today to the city manager and city attorney of Upper Arlington to express concern over the city’s recent removal of political signs from front yards, without proper notification to residents. Many of these signs conveyed important matters of public concern and were critical of local government supported policies.
According to Drew Dennis, staff attorney for the ACLU, many of the removed signs were fully compliant with Upper Arlington’s sign ordinance, and the city, by failing to contact sign owners after removing the signs, as required by the ordinance, may have infringed on the due process rights of these residents. Additionally, there were instances that signs not critical of local governmental policies were left undisturbed.
“We find the process of removing these signs troubling,” said Dennis. “Failing to notify residents that their property was removed by the city and where it can be retrieved contradicts the Constitution and Upper Arlington’s own laws. Also, the potential different treatment of signs based on the content may be an indication that some signs were removed because of their messaging, which would violate First Amendment rights.”
In light of potential constitutional and statutory violations, the ACLU has asked for records pertaining to the sign removal, including all correspondence among city employees concerning the removal the signs in question, or “temporary non-commercial messages,” as well as all pertinent policies or procedural guidelines as specified by the letter.