The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio Foundation announced today that it has resolved a federal lawsuit brought against the Village of Doylestown in October 2000. The suit, brought by the ACLU on behalf of Village resident Theresa Casteel, challenged a local ordinance which limited the period of time within which residents could display political yard signs. The ACLU, relying on recent cases decided by both the United States Supreme Court and the Ohio Supreme Court, argued that the limitations violated the First Amendment right to free speech.
The case was one of four political sign cases the ACLU took on statewide in the weeks before the November 2000 election. “Political yard signs the only form of public political speech in which most Americans ever engage,” said Raymond Vasvari, Legal Director of the Ohio ACLU. “Limits like this bump up against First Amendment where and when they most count – at home, and during an election season.”
On December 28, 2000, the Village repealed the ordinance limiting residents to displaying one sign per candidates or issue, and only during the period from eighteen (18) days before until five (5) days after an election. That effectively resolved the case. Lawyers for the ACLU and for the Village have been finalizing the details of settlement, including the payment of attorney fees to the ACLU for its work in the case. “The Village deserves credit,” Vasvari added regarding the settlement. “They were represented by outstanding counsel, who recognized the First Amendment problems with the ordinance and gave their clients sound legal advice, which they promptly followed. Sadly, it doesn’t always work that way. This time, it did.”