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ACLU wins day-old political-sign suit

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Within a day of filing a federal lawsuit regarding Plainfield's ordinance restricting political campaign signs, the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana can claim another win on an issue that's becoming more prominent statewide.

The civil liberties group filed a suit Tuesday morning in the U.S. District Court's Southern District of Indiana challenging the town's 10-year-old ordinance, which prohibits residents from posting political signs more than 30 days before an election and more than 10 days afterward. Resident Nick Crews had received a letter Sept. 10 from the local planning department notifying him he'd illegally posted a sign in support of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama on his front lawn.

Crews removed the sign and contacted the ACLU.

In response, Plainfield has agreed to a 90-day enforcement moratorium and to allow residents to place political signs in their yards, town attorney Mel Daniels said. A board meeting is set for Monday to announce the resolution, and officials will then look at revising the ordinance, he said.

This case is the first time since the ordinance passed that anyone has questioned it, Daniels said. The ordinance was passed to help maintain the town's appearance and also ensure that all signs are taken down within a reasonable time frame following an election, he said.

"We'll go through the caselaw on that and see what needs to be done," he said. "But the restriction on time looks like it isn't supportable, and we'll probably have to take it out."

This is the fourth suit the state ACLU has filed and won relating to political signs and free speech rights, according to the organization's legal director Ken Falk. He plans to meet with the federal judge Monday to discuss ending the suit.

Previously, the ACLU has won similar suits in Noblesville and Valparaiso, and another suit from Highland is currently being resolved in an identical way, Falk said. Meanwhile in Plainfield, plaintiff Crews is pleased with the quick resolution and that his suit helped bring attention to the issue in what he describes as probably the most important election in modern history. He's placed his Obama sign on the front lawn again.

"Signs are great dialogue starters and a way to get people to talk about these issues," he said. "We're not being intrusive or forcing our opinions on anyone else. We just want to start a dialogue with neighbors, and it's important to talk about these issues. Citizens should be able to participate in that way - it's our constitutional right."

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  1. It appears the police and prosecutors are allowed to change the rules halfway through the game to suit themselves. I am surprised that the congress has not yet eliminated the right to a trial in cases involving any type of forensic evidence. That would suit their foolish law and order police state views. I say we eliminate the statute of limitations for crimes committed by members of congress and other government employees. Of course they would never do that. They are all corrupt cowards!!!

  2. Poor Judge Brown probably thought that by slavishly serving the godz of the age her violations of 18th century concepts like due process and the rule of law would be overlooked. Mayhaps she was merely a Judge ahead of her time?

  3. in a lawyer discipline case Judge Brown, now removed, was presiding over a hearing about a lawyer accused of the supposedly heinous ethical violation of saying the words "Illegal immigrant." (IN re Barker) http://www.in.gov/judiciary/files/order-discipline-2013-55S00-1008-DI-429.pdf .... I wonder if when we compare the egregious violations of due process by Judge Brown, to her chiding of another lawyer for politically incorrectness, if there are any conclusions to be drawn about what kind of person, what kind of judge, what kind of apparatchik, is busy implementing the agenda of political correctness and making off-limits legit advocacy about an adverse party in a suit whose illegal alien status is relevant? I am just asking the question, the reader can make own conclsuion. Oh wait-- did I use the wrong adjective-- let me rephrase that, um undocumented alien?

  4. of course the bigger questions of whether or not the people want to pay for ANY bussing is off limits, due to the Supreme Court protecting the people from DEMOCRACY. Several decades hence from desegregation and bussing plans and we STILL need to be taking all this taxpayer money to combat mostly-imagined "discrimination" in the most obviously failed social program of the postwar period.

  5. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

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