Settlement Reached in Political Sign Case
Posted: November 25, 2008|Category: Free Speech Category: Rights of Candidates
The Rhode Island ACLU today announced the favorable settlement of its lawsuit against the state and the Town of Richmond on behalf of Rhode Island Representative-Elect Rod Driver, whose political signs were repeatedly removed by town officials during a campaign for office in 2006.
In August, U.S. District Judge William Smith agreed with the ACLU that the statute which Richmond Police Chief Raymond Driscoll used to take down Driver’s signs violated the First Amendment. The state law at issue prohibited a person from posting signs “within the limits of a public highway without first obtaining the written consent of the chief of police.” The court ruled that “allowing the statute to stand would be an endorsement of a ‘trust me because I am the Chief of Police’ standard,” an argument that the judge noted has long been rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court. Driver’s signs had been posted on private property across from the Washington County fairgrounds. The lawsuit was handled by RI ACLU volunteer attorney Richard A. Sinapi.
Under the consent judgment that has been filed in federal court to close the case, the defendants are permanently enjoined from enforcing the statute, and have agreed to pay $28,000 in attorneys’ fees and costs. The ACLU called the settlement a “clear victory for basic First Amendment rights.”