The New Jersey Supreme Court has ruled in favor of a 10-foot inflatable rat. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union was using the giant rat in protests when the officials at the Lawrence Township informed the union that the rat violated a ban on banners, streamers and inflatable signs, except those announcing grand openings. The New Jersey Supreme Court has ruled that the rat has rights . . . or at least the union under the first amendment.
Justice John E. Wallace Jr. ruled that “The township’s elimination of an entire medium of expression without a readily available alternative renders the ordinance overbroad.” The ruling overturns the $100 fine given a union official in 2005. The decision reverses a 2007 appellate court.
The court left open a possibility for the township:
Our determination that the Township’s ordinance violates
the First Amendment does not leave the Township without adequate means to address its asserted concerns. As long as any future sign ordinance “leave[s] open ample alternative channels for
communication,” the Township may regulate the “time, place, or manner of [the use of] signs.” Clark v. Cmty. for Creative Non- Violence, 468 U.S. 288, 293, 104 S. Ct. 3065, 3069, 82 L. Ed. 2d 221, 227 (1984); State v. Miller, supra, 83 N.J. at 416-17. To be sure, such an ordinance must be narrowly tailored to further the governmental interest. See, e.g., id. at 413.
As for the union, they may want to keep it away from George Bartusek.
Here is the a-73-07-state-v-wayne-deangelo
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