Posted by: Patricia Salkin | November 21, 2010

Federal District Court Holds Size Restriction on Temporary [Political] Signs Does Not Violate First Amendment

Kolbe wanted to post a 32-square-foot sign, supporting the Republican candidate for governor, on the corner lot containing his home. He sought an injunction to prohibit enforcement of a zoning ordinance that limits the size of temporary signs in residential zones, including political signs, to eight square feet, asserting that the law violated his right to free speech. The court determined that the regulation was content-neutral and was subject to intermediate scrutiny. Both parties agreed that the sign restrictions serve a substantial governmental interest, Kolbe, however, asserted the restriction was not narrowly tailored. The federal district court denied the request for a preliminary injunction, holding that Kolbe is unlikely to succeed on a First Amendment claim. The Court explained that the ordinance, which defines “temporary sign” as being “constructed of cloth, fabric, or other lightweight material . . . intended to display a message for a limited period of time,” is content-neutral and serves substantial governmental interests with respect to distraction of motorists and visual clutter. Further, the Court found that the ordinance leaves open ample alternative means of communication for Kolbe since he could post as many signs as he wanted that were eight square feet or smaller.  
Kolbe v. Baltimore County, 2010 WL 3184458 (D. MD. 8/11/2010)

The opinion can be accessed at: http://www.mdd.uscourts.gov/Opinions/Opinions/Kolbe11aug10.pdf


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