March 28, 2003
From the Trentonian, via Drudge:
The borough mayor supports the councilís unanimous vote to outlaw any ribbons or other memorials for the American troops fightingin Iraq, if those ribbons are placed on public property because the government doesnít want them there.
"Iím shocked and outraged," Johnson said. "I canít believe the mayor would force me to take down ribbons put there in honor of American troops, fighting for our freedom in Iraq."
Johnson and her husband David own Hegyiís Liquor Store, the second prominent landmark on the way into tiny Fieldsboro from Route 130, with a population of 1,222. The first landmark is a huge sign directly in front of the liquor store that says "Entering the Boro of Fieldsboro, Incorporated 1865."
Any lawyers want to tackle the 1st Amendment aspect of this?
UPDATE: Known attorney Eugene Volokh responds.
Posted By Stephen Green at March 28, 2003 01:32 PM
Who wants to bet these council people flew American flags from their cars after 9/11? It's all about serving the popular opinion.
"Fighting for our freedom in Iraq"? What on earth does that mean?
REPEAT REPEAT REPEAT
Let's look a little further down the page...
Tough to say from the report. Certainly looks like it's content-based, although according to the linked story the mayor threw in some weasel-words to make it look content neutral. As someone said a while back, content-based prohibition is a no-no. Time, place & manner restrictions, esp. for things like safety concerns, are generally okay.
First and foremost:
Secondly: It appears it could violate the First Amendment, because it's content-based.
The question is whether town space has ever been used in the past by others to make statements, e.g., pro-Earth Day or whatever. If so, then its a 1st Amendment violation.
The mayor's opposition to the war is a bit of a giveaway, despite his claim to be concerned about evenhandedness--it's clear the content offends him.
Hopefully the DrudgeBlast will cause enough bad publicity that they'll end up retreating in humiliation.
It's NOT "content-based."
Nor is it unconstitutional.
It does not bar the display of such ribbons on private property. Only on public property.
And, if this is unconstitutibnal, so is President Bush's Order that our troops in Afghanistan may not fly the American Flag.
It's dumb. But there's nothing you can do about it, except make your displeasure known at the ballot box.
Kind of how many of us feel about Bush and Ashcroft.
It's stupid, and that's all that matters.
Volokh's piece is well worth reading, and pretty well nails it.
The only remaining question would be answered by info we don't have: whether there's a history of the town government (so-called) selectively enforcing the ban--Earth Day Good, Troop Support Bad.
But surely the government already has the power to judge which forms and perspectives of speach can be attached to public property by the citizenry. Take art for instance, what's the difference between the town selecting a portrait by an artist of the Founding Fathers endorcing freedom, and another citizen tying a yellow ribbon around a tree? Would that mean that in every capital building portraits of Marx must be hung next to Hamilton? The state has a legitimate right to advocate its own viewpoints in the public arena, and hence to endorse the speach of citizens that reflect that view. After all, the citizen is only the building block of the state.
These are elected officials who can be ousted next election should the people so choose.
What I would look at is precedence for this ruling, then proceed.
Back up the truck...the Ninth Circuit decision concerns public roadways in California, not the public square, per se.
Many, if not all, town squares fly the American flag and well as a state, city and/or county flag. City and county vehicles display an American flag...the designation of "An All-American City" is displayed with pride by most communities and mayors.
Also many public spaces are required to fly the flag: post offices, schools, state, federal office buildings, court houses (even the 9Th) etc.
Would this bone-headed mayor make a grieving family remove a banner bearing a gold Service Star? Of course not.
It's PC bullshit.
After a re-read, I'm beginning to revert to my original "content-based" argument: The vote was directed specifically at and banned the ribbons, in response to a complaint.
There's nothing indicating that there is a general ordinance prohibiting all displays, regardless of content, anywhere on city grounds. Consequently, it's *not* neutral.
Ok..while this is going on, people are more than willing to run around tying ribbon around old oak trees ala Tony Orlando.
However, when it's all over...will the same group of people run around cleaning it up?
I don't think so.
Taxpayers will be footing the clean up bill.
If it's government property, the government has every right to say "no".
If the government represents everyone, then it's better to take a neutral stand. Not everyone wants yellow ribbons tied to everything.
As a resident and a Fieldsboro employee, i just want it known that...The mayor took it upon himself to have the johnsons remove the ribbons because of a long time feud the families have had...there was NO vote from the council...there was a 10 second discussion and 2 council members stated they did`nt see a problem with the ribbons being up on the borough sign...ALSO there is NO ordinance stating that you can or cannot hang anything on borough property and of most importance the meeting that was held on march 25th where this vote DID NOT happen, was taped, and our sneaky mayor snuck into the clerks office and stole the tape..and he admitted to it! he said that he was taking the tape to have it transcribed and he also did this with-out the councils consent..i have been to the municipal building several times to hear it or officially request a copy of the minutes and was denied. why did the mayor take the tape? does he have a gulity conscience? in the history of fieldsboro there has never been a time where a tape from a meeting was taken to an out-side source to be transcribed...our borough clerk always does it..now it is 3 days before our next council meeting and she (the clerk) does'nt have any minutes prepared for the meeting. our mayor is a LIAR and a THIEF
Patriot Fieldsboro Resident!