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A municipal judge in New Jersey’s Roselle Park borough is facing condemnation and scorn for effectively violating a Trump supporter’s First Amendment rights because of a complaint reportedly made by the borough’s Democrat Party mayor.
That Trump supporter, Andrea Dick, has been displaying a slew of pro-Trump and profane anti-Biden signs on the fence outside her mother’s home.
Or rather, she had been, up until Roselle Park Municipal Court Judge Gary Bundy issued a ruling last Thursday ordering her mother, Patricia Dilascio, to remove the signs containing profanity within a week or face a $250/day fine.
According to NJ.com, the judge argued that the profanity violates a borough ordinance, § 3-8, that explicitly states that homeowners are barred from displaying “any obscene material, communication or performance or other article or item which is obscene within the Borough.”
Obscenity is defined by the ordinance as anything that “appeals to the prurient interest,” “depicts or describes in a patently offensive way sexual conduct,” “depicts or exhibits offensive nakedness” or “lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.”
“This is not a case about politics. It is a case, pure and simple, about language. This ordinance does not restrict political speech. Neither this town or its laws may abridge or eliminate Ms. Dilascio’s freedom of speech,” the judge reportedly ruled.
“However, freedom of speech is not simply an absolute right. It is clear from state law and statutes that we cannot simply put up the umbrella of the First Amendment and say everything and anything is protected speech.”
According to NJ.com, the signs outside Dilascio’s home became an issue after a local code enforcement officer “received a call from the mayor about the signs.”
“The code enforcement officer testified in court that she received a call from the mayor about the signs and then issued a violation,” NJ.com notes.
The officer then “issued a notice of violation last month to the property owner and then a court summons a few days after the signs were not removed.”
“They want me to take the flags down by Monday, which is not happening. I’m not doing it. I have a right to have those flags up there. Freedom of speech,” Dick told local media at the time.
Following Bundy’s ruling Thursday, Roselle Park Mayor Joseph Signorello III celebrated.
“Today was a win for the borough and decency. While we respect the views of our residents, there’s no place for profanity by a school and school children,” he said to NJ.com.
Lawyers, however, weren’t celebrating, starting with the family’s attorney, Michael Campagna.
“I am a firm believer in the First Amendment. I may not believe in what you’re saying, but I absolutely believe that you have the right to say it. That’s what our democracy is about. If you tell people that they cannot say something, that they cannot print something, that they cannot put a sign up, we’re going into censorship,” he told NJ.com.
“In Nazi Germany, when Hitler didn’t like something, they burned the books and then they burned the people. I don’t think we want that to happen in Roselle Park.”
Indeed, though just to be clear, to some extent book-burning is already happening in the United States.
‘Racist’ classics banned from schools: ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ ‘Huckleberry Finn,’ ‘Of Mice and Men,’ and others https://t.co/8C9LfsmGSN via @BIZPACReview
— Bo Snerdley (@BoSnerdley) November 19, 2020
His criticism was shared by several other licensed lawyers and law professors.
Look (*Language warning):
This is a ridiculous and unconstitutional decision. (It’s also offensive, and absurd, for her attorney to compare this local-government censorship with Nazi Germany.) https://t.co/7dLdM46Ub7
— Sean Hecht (@seanhecht) July 17, 2021
F this judge’s ruling. https://t.co/V4sU28me4b
— Anthony Michael Kreis (@AnthonyMKreis) July 16, 2021
Political speech belongs to everyone. Even if crude.
— Anthony Michael Kreis (@AnthonyMKreis) July 16, 2021
“This is a ridiculous and unconstitutional decision,” New York-based attorney Sean Hecht wrote, though he also slammed Campagna for the unnecessary Nazi comparison.
“Political speech belongs to everyone. Even if crude,” Georgia State Law School professor Anthongy Michael Kreis added.
According to Law & Crime, Bundy’s ruling may be unconstitutional.
It “seemingly violates U.S. Supreme Court precedent set in the landmark 1971 case Cohen v. California. In that case, a man protesting the Vietnam War was charged with a violating a ‘breach of peace’ statute for wearing a jacket that said, ‘F–K THE DRAFT. STOP THE WAR,'” the site notes.
“Holding that ‘one man’s vulgarity is another’s lyric,’ the high court ruled that the government cannot regulate an individual’s right to use curse words to protect public morality.”
True, though on the other hand, back in the 1970s the United States hadn’t yet been taken over by “woke,” communist-friendly liberal Democrats …
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