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Court Enjoins Police From Removing Signs in the Right-of-Way

yessignThe brouhaha over a proposed bond referendum for the Scarsdale Schools has now spilled over from the streets into United States District Court. Controversy over the placement of "Yes" signs supporting the bond referendum led one Scarsdale resident to file a lawsuit claiming that a local law that prevents political signs in the Village right of way inhibits his free speech.

The issue arose when proponents for the bond placed hundreds of signs on Village lawns and on public property, some within the right of way, which is the first 13 feet of property from the curb. This led to objections from those who oppose the bond who asked police to remove the illegally placed signs. A similar dispute over the placement of signs erupted last March when the Plaintiff, Robert Berg, ran for Mayor of Scarsdale and signs supporting his candidacy were removed from the public right of way.

Now Berg has won a temporary restraining order against the Village of Scarsdale and the Scarsdale Police that enjoins them from removing political signs from the Village right of way. Berg charged that removing signs has "chilled the exercise of his first and fourth amendment right to free speech."

As most of Berg's front lawn is within the Village right-of-way he argues that he is deprived of his right to place political signs on his lawn without the threat of enforcement and prosecution. The court found that Berg showed "irreparable harm" when he sought to "engage in political speech, as timing is of the essence in politics and a delay of even a day or two may be intolerable."

In his decision, U.S. District Judge Nelson S. Roman cited a 1994 case, "City of Ladue v. Gilleo where the court found that "residential signs have long been an important and distinct medium of expression," and "by eliminating a common means of speaking, such measures can suppress too much speech."

The court ruled that "Defendents (Scarsdale Village) are enjoined from enforcing the provision of Section 256-1 of the Scarsdale Village Code or taking any other action against Plaintiff and other persons with respect to posting political lawn signs in the Village of Scarsdale right of way in front of private homes, so long as said political lawn signs pose no safety of traffic hazards." The ruling, dated February 6, was issued just two days before the referendum but could have effects in the next few weeks when Scarsdale faces an election for Village Trustees.

Read the court's decision here.

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#15 Resident 2018-02-11 10:41
People need to understand that although the court order tentatively allowed signs to be placed in the village right of way IN FRONT OF PRIVATE HOMES, it did not allow signs to be placed on other village property, park space, at schools, etc.
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#14 Resident 2018-02-09 01:41
I am happy to see the police allow signs on the village right of way in front of private homes but not on other village property.

People should read and understand the court order.

Joanne - could you post that link?
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#13 Disgusted FM Resident 2018-02-08 21:28
And the Voters Choice Party descends even lower into the gutter.
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#12 Resident 2018-02-08 20:23
I think Judge Roman made a good decision - at least for the short run until arguments are heard.

However, residents must realize this: You can place signs in the Village right of way in front of private homes. You CANNOT place them on other Village property or school property.
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#11 Resident 2018-02-08 20:11
The signs on public property not in front of private homes - and even at the polling site on school property - are still illegal.

What is wrong with the Vote Yes crew? Can’t you ease the court order?
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#10 LWVS fan 2018-02-08 19:30
Yes, I was there to vote at about 6:30, and was deeply offended at coming across those signs. Any cause that pushed inappropriately in this way would find disfavor with me, whatever the issue.

Furthermore, I appreciated the way in previous years, School PTAs sent out “Please Vote” emails but were careful never pushed a Yes or No on their membership, which must surely contain differences of opinion. I’m uncomfortable with this year’s departure from that custom.

These trends do not seem in the best democratic traditions to me, and I’m disappointed. I’d expect that here we’d aim for a high level of civic interaction. Isn’t that why we’re here; in hopes our children will be taught to reach for those higher standards?

Quoting Illegal Signs:
I went to vote an hour ago and there were "Vote Yes" signs strategically placed all over the back of the middle school on school property along the drive voters are asked to drive to park. This is inappropriate. Should the police be notified?
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#9 Illegal Signs 2018-02-08 18:39
I went to vote an hour ago and there were "Vote Yes" signs strategically placed all over the back of the middle school on school property along the drive voters are asked to drive to park. This is inappropriate. Should the police be notified?
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#8 QR resident 2018-02-08 15:50
That is correct.

Quoting Read this:
You can place signs in the Village right of way in front of private homes. You CANNOT place them on other Village property or school property.
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#7 Greenacres skeptic 2018-02-08 15:23
Nothing came from the vote yes camp and no one has a deal. These accusations and related conspiracy theories just further conflicts. Hoping we will move forward as a village and stop this fighting. It's time.
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#6 Bob Selvaggio 2018-02-08 14:29
Thank you Bob Berg and Judge Roman for helping to safeguard our civil rights. Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty...
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