New Jersey Town Tries to Force Resident to Remove His Ron Paul Yard Sign

The Borough of Woodland Park, New Jersey, is fining resident Matthew LaCorte for refusing to remove a Ron Paul 2012 sign from his front yard. According to a friend of LaCorte’s, the recent high school alumnus received notice in the mail about a month ago that he was violating Woodland Park law by “display[ing] election signs prior to election date.”

"He was scared,” said Brian Aitken, who counts LaCorte as a family friend. “It didn’t make any sense to him. He didn’t want to take the signs down. I told him to do what he thought was right, so he kept the signs up. He got another warning, and they said that they were going to issue a summons.”

Said summons was issued earlier this week. LaCorte, who is a member of Young Americans for Liberty and will be starting at Hofstra in the fall, will appear in court in August. He has two options: pay a fine of $100 to Woodland Park and remove the signs, or pay a fine of $100 and receive an additional fine every day that the signs are still up.

According to Aitken, “the law is one that his been repealed in a lot of places, but it exists in the city LaCorte’s in.”

Neighboring towns have repealed or declined to enforce similar laws (which forbid posting signs more than 30 days before an election, or eight days after one) after clashes with the New Jersey chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. LaCorte is refusing to take down the signs, and has petitioned the New Jersey chapter of the ACLU for legal assistance.

UPDATE: Aitken writes

Something I was just told: "CITY OF LADUE v. GILLEO in which the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a citizens right to display yard signs, no matter what city ordinances or homeowners association indentures say to the contrary."

Apparently the Supreme Court already determined this case. New Jersey just has illegal laws on its books.

Ignorance of the law is no defense... but only if you're a civilian. 

More on the Ladue case from Cornell's website. This is clearly germaine to Woodland Park: 

Ladue contends, however, that its ordinance is a mere regulation of the "time, place, or manner" of speech because residents remain free to convey their desired messages by other means, such as hand held signs, "letters, handbills, flyers, telephone calls, newspaper advertisements, bumper stickers, speeches, and neighborhood or community meetings." Brief for Petitioners 41. However, even regulations that do not foreclose an entire medium of expression, but merely shift the time, place, or manner of its use, must "leave open ample alternative channels for communication." Clark v. Community for Creative Non Violence, 468 U.S. 288, 293 (1984). In this case, we are not persuaded that adequate substitutes exist for the important medium of speech that Ladue has closed off.

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  • Jess Asken||

    What if the sign were replaced with "Fuck Woodland Park"?

  • The Borough of Woodland Park||

    ** shuffles through papers **

    We're pretty sure we have a law against that, too.

    ** shuffles through papers **

    Ah, we'll get back to you shortly.

  • fish||

    What if the sign were replaced with "Fuck Woodland Park"?

    I would cast a ballot for "Fuck Woodland Park"!

  • Platypus||

    I'll start printing the tee shirts.

  • Binky||

    I'm thinking that, with a little creative cursive handwriting, Fuck and Park are interchangeable.

  • Achtung Coma Baby||

    Fuck the pigs.

  • Achtung Coma Baby||

    The guy is awesome. Don't fuckin' give in!

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    Word! I think this will be a valuable lesson for this young man. Hopefully this story will resonate with some of his friends as well. Let freedom spread.

  • ||

    Achtung Coma Baby|7.28.11 @ 4:40PM|#
    Fuck the pigs.

    Libertarian politics in a nutshell.

  • ||

    No kidding. Everyone should just blindly submit to authority.

  • WWNGD?||

    Ok, I will.

  • ||

    Hey WWNGD, I'm an authority. Pay my electricity, gas and rent. I am your government. I give you these services to protect your freedom.

  • jtuf||

    Ug, his town is close to mine. I expect the NJ Libertarian Party to assist soon. They've helped in similar cases. *grumble, grumble, grumble* There goes my vacation plans.

  • ||

    John Paff won't back down.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    This is a battle he is unlikely to win.

  • robc||

    Actually, this is one that is almost impossible to lose.

  • ||

    Oh he will win. Liberty always wins. =)

  • ||

    LOL you mean other than the fact that there is already a Supreme Court ruling which establishes precedent in this exact situation?

  • ||

    Short-term solution would be to make the Ron Paul sign a part of a bigger sign that protests the ordinance.

  • Jim Coleman||

    I like the cut of your jib. That is a fantastic idea. A very large sign for Ron Paul and another aspect of the sign protesting the sign ordinance.

  • Or||

    Public Service Announcement
    The Borough of Woodland Park
    Prohibits Signs Like This
    [insert large RP message here]
    From Being Displayed
    More Than 30 Days Before An Election

  • Devil Inchoate||

    love it

  • Mongo||

    Then add one of those circles with a slash to make it incoherent.

  • Jeff P||

    I will make an unscientific guess that the hard numbers of people whose political standards have been swayed by the yard signs they pass is up there with people who got clean because "Say No To Drugs" was embossed on the urinal filter they pissed on.

    Plus, all we need is for one child to get injured riding their bike into a sign and they'll be banned.

  • The Borough of Woodland Park||

    Plus, all we need is for one child to get injured riding their bike into a sign and they'll be banned.

    Yeah, that's the ticket!

  • Platypus||

    What, trespassing is okay but signs are bad? I'd sue the shit outta that child. GET OFFA MY LAWN.

  • The Borough of Woodland Park||

    The child would not have lost control and ridden onto your lawn had she not been distracted by the sign.

  • Platypus||

    Courthouse. 8:00am.
    Be there.

  • The Borough of Woodland Park||

    That's the Woodland Park Courthouse, right?

  • Atanarjuat||

    True. But sometimes with third party or marginal candidates it can raise awareness and make for example, Ron Paul seem like less of a fringe candidate if his signs are a common sight around town.

  • Tony||

    According to a friend of LaCorte’s, the recent high school alumnus received notice in the mail about a month ago that he was violating Woodland Park law by “display[ing] election signs prior to election date.”

    How can you have political expression freedom health if it doesn't take months to get signs things government approved pharmaceuticals approved by petty municipal bureaucrats. Waiting periods for guns, waiting periods for political lawn signs supplements...its all part of making life better for the people.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Spoof or not, this shit is scary.

  • Zenmaster||

    Will he be submitting a friend-of-LaCorte brief?

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    Cover the 2012 part and say it isn't an election sign, it is just one of general support.

  • The Borough of Woodland Park||

    You think this is funny? You think this is a game?

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    Well, in it's own way, yes.

  • Platypus||

    and make the sign BIGGER.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    Then he would need a building permit.

  • The Borough of Woodland Park||

    Now you're being more reasonable, Mr. Mohawk.

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    The sign would still be smaller than a shed. We've no hope if it requires a permit to build a shed.

  • Old Mexican||

    According to a friend of LaCorte's, the recent high school alumnus received notice in the mail about a month ago that he was violating Woodland Park law by "display[ing] election signs prior to election date."


    There are clear constitutional issues here, mainly 1st and 14th Amendment.

    I hope he wins.

  • hmm||

    I bet this borough has a huge surplus and zero crime...

  • Random Statist||

    What do you mean "zero crime" ??? -- the outlaw in the story is displaying an election sign MONTHS ahead of the election!

  • Platypus||

    That's it. Tase him, and fine him. In THAT order.

  • hmm||

    You forgot to shoot his dog...

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    Are you crazy!?! Dogs are delicious. He can be the audience at the barbeque.

  • ||

    Shoot his dog! And feed it to him in the county jail!!

  • Lester Hunt||

    This reminds me: Reason co-founder Bob Poole once wrote a book called "Grassroots Tyranny," arguing that a great many of the bad things American government does to people are done by local governments.

  • Lester Hunt||

    This reminds me: Reason co-founder Bob Poole once wrote a book called "Grassroots Tyranny," arguing that a great many of the bad things American government does to people are done by local governments.

  • Fire Tiger||

    Of course. The cost of fighting most of it is too great.

  • Poole's closed.||

    Due to AIDS.

  • ||

    Legislation by annoyance.

  • ||

    Curious to see if the ACLU will help out since they can't stand Ron Paul.

  • NoTalentAssclown||

    He could always consult with the Institute for Justice

  • ||

    Even the ACLU has seen the writing on the wall.

    The established left have no interest in protecting any constitutional rights.

    So they have begun to branch out.

  • ||

    Right, the ACLU helped out the KKK all these years because they were in love with them...

  • ||

    Of course they will.

  • Gavin Rossdale jerkin to Daisy||

    "Yeah, yeah, yeah...who's your daddy...Oh, yeah, who's your fuckin' daddy."

    [cum splashes on Daisy's centerfold, Gwen walks in]

    "Oh, yeah...that hit the spot."

  • CS||

    If he refuses to take the sign down the SWAT team will be sent in to pry it out of his cold, dead hands.

  • SWAT Dispatcher||

    UPDATE: New Jersey just has illegal laws on its books.

    Team 34, redirect to Woodland Park Borough Hall.

  • Paul||

    “display[ing] election signs prior to election date.”

    I've been told by progressives that a ban like this is not a violation of the first amendment.

  • Binky||

    I've been told something similar by Senator John McCain.

    Is he a progressive?

  • ||

    Yep, just like Teddy Roosevelt

  • Paul||

    Win.

  • ||

    Is he a progressive?

    Yes.

    In fact when TARP needed to be passed he dropped his whole presidential campaign and progressed to DC with great speed.

  • Paul||

    Feingold thinks so.

  • Paul||

    Ladue contends, however, that its ordinance is a mere regulation of the "time, place, or manner" of speech because residents remain free to convey their desired messages by other means, such as hand held signs, "letters, handbills, flyers, telephone calls, newspaper advertisements, bumper stickers, speeches, and neighborhood or community meetings."

    Your right to speak using your unamplified voice in a public square of the government's choosing, shall not be infringed.

  • Binky||

    So, "bumper stickers" are OK?

    I think I see a solution ...

  • George||

    Free speech zones, bitchez! Now go wave your protest signs down in that smelly swamp surrounded by guards and concertina wire...

  • ||

    I think the man should be proactive here, and sue the town NOW for violating his civil rights.

    -jcr

  • ||

    So he has plenty of time to donate a chunk of the suit's award to the Ron Paul campaign.

  • ||

    Maybe enough to hire the blimp again! ;-)

    -jcr

  • Ted S.||

    The problem is that it will be the taxpayers who pay the fine, not the councillors, supervisor, or police.

  • ||

    taxpayer apathy is exactly how these laws get passed, so they can get fucked, too.

  • ||

    Here's what I claim I would do, but probably never would ;)

    Every single day send a certified letter to a city dickhead referencing the court decision that allows for political speech in your front yard. Every day include a running tally of the reasonable charges you are owed for administration of such an effort and notify the city you expect payment given they have initiated the need for this activity by their unlawful requests issued under color of authority. Keep a log of the time spent logging the activity, fighting a claim the city knows is illegal, and keep track of expenses. Such an effort is easily going to reach the arbitrary $100 per day the city pulled out of their ass.

    When that fails, and given that I have a GED in law, it will fail, go fuck the mayor's wife.

  • CS||

    Now that begs the question, what does the mayors wife look like?

  • The Borough of Woodland Park||

    Her picture cannot be displayed until 30 days before the election.

  • Mensan||

    I don't see any question begging in bigbigslacker's post. Could you please point out where he's begging the question?

  • ||

    "This is clearly germaine..."

    Really? I thought it was clearly Tito. Or maybe Marlon.

  • Platypus||

    *rimshot*

    he's here all week, folks.

  • In touch with utopia||

    Just replace the sign with "We've got what it takes to take what you've got - VOTE INCUMBENT".

  • ||

    Am I reading it wrong or isn't this just a civil ordinance? He could leave the sign up all year and he would never go to jail for it, he would just have to pay the fines. This seems like more well intentioned legislation with unintended consequences. What is it with cities and homeowners associations trying to enforce aesthetics? Do they not know how to make exceptions?

  • RM||

    I'm not sure how it's well-intentioned - was there a rash of offensive signs they passed the law in response to?

  • Paul||

    Yes, the "Elect Ron Paul" signs.

  • sailor||

    Well any sign calling for people to choose my masters is offensive to me.

  • ||

    Exactly. I like the electronic signs on the big TV that chooses them for me.

  • ||

    > isn't this just a civil ordinance?

    Strictly speaking, because it's unconstitutional it's not a law at all.

    -jcr

  • CrackertyAssCracker||

    Are we sure this is a city ordinance and not some HOA crap?

  • -iɦ∇||

    i think he is wrong in saying this voids all hoa rules in regards yard signs. hoa's are (were) compelled to uphold whatever law their state might have in place. If that law is invalidated then they may restrict as they see fit as membership is a contractual situation.

  • ||

    "Are we sure this is a city ordinance and not some HOA crap?"

    If it was an HOA doing this, Reason would not report it.

  • Warty||

    ILLEGAL AINT A SICK BIRD

  • ||

    i think i could hurt someone for my yard sign.put it on your roof and place them all over your car.or you could hire a teen looking to make some money to hold the sign.would be a little cheaper then the 100 a day

  • ||

    you could hire a teen looking to make some money to hold the sign.

    JOB(S)!!!!

  • Nipplemancer||

    is this the same Brian Aitken that recently had his sentence commuted?

  • Nipplemancer||

    errr. sentence for illegal possession of legal guns commuted that should read.
    fucking preview, how does it work?

  • Brian Aitken||

    Yes, it is.

  • robc||

    The mayor and all 6 council members are democrats.

    The party of free speech!!!

  • robc||

    Apparently, according to the Mayor's last letter to the city, they are struggling with the budget, but made the changes, and have the lowest tax rates of surrounding areas (which is nice). So why are they going to blow their budget losing badly in a legal case?

  • ||

    sometimes you have to break a few budget-eggs to play legal-chicken with the peasantry.

  • Skr||

    This is why I don't understand the growing obsession on the left with regards to neo-feudalism and wealth disparity and the plan to solve that by giving more power to politicians like this.

  • ||

    You're still working under the assumption that it's "understandable" in the traditional sense.

  • ||

    I'd say to sue the living fuck out of the city, making it as expensive for them as possible with your pro bono legal team.

    After you win, and then they default on paying damages, take possession of the city.

  • Murray Sabrin||

    I found an article about winning the lawsuit against Leonia (Sabrin for Governor vs. Leonia), which had an ordinance against political lawn signs. It appeared in The Record, Sabrin wins right to post sign on lawn, October 28, 1997.

  • GroundTruth||

    This is not screaming "fire, in a crowded theater", what part of the First Amendment do these guys not get?

  • GroundTruth||

    p.s. I detest lawn signs, but I'll support my neighbors right to have one.

    (Well, yeah, I did have one for Carla Howell.... but it was still icky)

  • cynical||

    To be fair, they have to understand the fourteenth amendment too. They have to whip out their toes to count that high, so you can understand why they might screw up.

  • ||

    This sort of thing always makes me question the legitimacy of the view that local power is likely to be anymore just than federal power. I'm all for elimination of the feds, but I would suggest that unless localities are subjected to the same restrictions as those we would like to see at the federal level, the likelihood is that local governments will run roughshod over even the most basic rights most of us take for granted. And certainly the more petty the tyrant the more apt his edicts are to affect our lives in personal ways. I see no more protection in the notion of "states rights" with respect to individual liberty than I do with those who worship the nation state.

  • ||

    Audit the fed, support HR 459 Paul

  • Adam||

    Hand held signs are OK? Just buy a Halloween prop hand and stick in the ground to hold up the sign.

  • Mark W||

    What we have here are two issues:
    Property rights and free speech, both of which are being agregiously violated by this town. But having seen how NJ is not am American city in terms of its adherance to the US Constitution, I am not surprised that it imposed Kafka-esque laws muzzling free speech on its citizens. Especially when that free speech endangers Communism's stronghold on the community.
    Remember folks, you are not allowed to own property in this 'country' that sits between Canada and Mexico. America used to be in this geographic region, but somewhere between 1863 and 1913, it got taken over by the Communists.

  • prolefeed||

    The Outdoor Circle in Hawaii tried getting a law passed similar to this, and succeeded, only to have a court here strike it down as unconstitutional.

    Some dickheads in the legislature annually introduce similar bills to restrain the rights of those upstarts who would run against them, and it gets killed in committee by someone with institutional memory.

  • Bodymore, Murdaland||

    http://www.blimpsforsale.com/

    Instead of a sign- tie this to a sturdy post and fly it a few 100 feet in the air (on non-windy days). I live near I-95, I think this is better than donating money to Ron Paul.

  • ||

    You go, Matthew. The ACLU should live up to its name and take this case.

    Smash the bureaucracy!

  • Alice Lillie||

    Smash it to smithereens and pulverize the smithereens!

  • ||

    The township leaders must be Hard Core Liberals. This can be the only reason for their FEAR of Ron Paul......
    Ron Tells The Truth. Tyranny advocates hate him.

  • Alice Lillie||

    The Rutherford Institute also handles cases like this.

    The ACLU is a good choice but they are snowed under. Chances are Rutherford (John Whitehead) is too.

    Maybe if you can raise Judge Napolitano (Fox Business, he's great) maybe some more leads are available.

    I was just pulled over on the I-80 in IL and given a warning for "Improper display of rear license plate" (horsefeathers) because my state name only partially, but readably, showed.

    It also happened there in 2005 when I was warned for 2 mph over the speed limit. Both times I had a pro-gun sticker. In 2005 it was JPFO. This time it was a Ron Paul sticker. The sticker ***STAYS***.

    And I won't be taking my business back to IL for a very long time.

    I hope young LaCort digs his heels in and refuses to remove the sign.

    Were it an Obama sign I'll bet money they would not have sited him.

  • ||

    I thought about this where I live in Minnesota, and the way I plan to get around it, is plant a sign in my window.

    That way its not outside, it cant get ruined, noone can steal it, and it's expression within my home, but you can see it from the road clearly.

    It's so idiotic that a city would be so concerned about a political sign, when this nation is about to self-destruct. So trivial are their schemes.

  • matt||

    MONEY BOMB - Internet Money Bomb to Raise $40K - he could leave it up until election! Ron Paul Money Bombs raise millions in a day - $40k is nothing!

  • ||

    The borough's website is very busy and hard to read. I can't find the sign ordinance, did they remove it?
    http://www.wpnj.us/ordinances.html
    PS. Check out the crowd control ordinance!

  • emily||

    Confused.

  • Chris||

    A sign in Ireland has the answer to the current economic crisis: " Put all politicians on minimum wage and then see how fast things change". I submit that if these people in government had less money, then they'd also have less time to squander too, about infinitesimally unimportant stuff as this. What a bunch of garbage that someone can't stick a sign up in his own yard in the "land of freedom".

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