ACLU Settles Second Sign Ordinance Case
October 2006 - Joining our recent victory against the City of Winston for its unconstitutional sign ordinance is our successful lawsuit against the City of Silverton on behalf of Chris Linn.
Mr. Linn maintained two signs (“Support our Troops, In the War” and “Vote fraud is treason, http://www.blackboxvoting.org/”) and one flag (“We The People SAY NO to the Bush Agenda”) on his residence.
After a complaint was made, Silverton threatened Mr. Linn with violation of the City sign ordinance and fines of up to $100 per day if he did not remove his signs. The code permits one permanent sign, and temporary signs may only be displayed for a total of 52 days on residential property, with additional limiting restrictions. The ordinance exempts national, state or local government flags, but not peace flags. It also exempts real estate signs but not political signs. Mr. Linn received a police warning that told him all political signs had to be removed seven days after the election.
The ACLU filed a lawsuit on behalf of Mr. Linn, alleging violation of the free speech provision, Article I, section 8, of the Oregon Constitution and violation of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. After defendants moved the case to the U.S. District Court, the ACLU filed for summary judgment. Shortly after this motion was filed, the City agreed to settle the case. As part of the settlement, the City apologized to Mr. Linn, admitted that portions of its sign code violated the Oregon and United States constitutions, and paid nominal damages to Mr. Linn and ACLU attorney fees.
Cooperating attorney Heather Van Meter of Williams, Kastner & Gibbs, PLLC handled this case.