Business law Jury
Business law Jury:You’re on the Jury : The Case of the Politically Incorrect Sign
Disturbed by the number and variety of signs that individuals were putting up within its borders, a
City passed an ordinance prohibiting all signs on private property except in commercial areas for
advertising. Sam, a homeowner, pasted a sign on the front door of his house containing an
American flag with these words underneath the flag: “Down with the Mayor and the City Council –
Our rights are being violated”. He then went door to door in his neighborhood passing out copies of
this sign and asking his neighbors to display it as well. Sam was arrested for violating the ordinance.
During the trial, a witness for the City described how many signs had appeared in the past on homes
and on lawns for commercial home businesses, ruining the appearance of the community. He
explained that many other cities and towns had experienced the same problems and that the
ordinance was reasonable and the only way to solve the problem. Sam testified that the sign he had
put up was a small one and that other City residents had raised flags on national holidays and put up
signs showing their patriotism. None of these residents had been arrested.
The Arguments at Trial
The City’s attorney argued that a city had the authority to regulate signs within its borders to protect
the appearance and value of properties. She further argued that the ordinance did not unduly
restrict free speech as there were other ways for residents to express their views: radio, television,
and the newspapers. Sam’s attorney argued that the regulation violated the freedom of speech
provisions of the federal constitution, was too broad, too vague, and was unreasonable. He argued
that the City could have limited the ordinance by restricting signs over a certain size and in certain
locations. He further argued that it was unreasonable to restrict the expression of opinions except
for the use of the media.
Discussion Questions to be Answered
1. Who has the stronger arguments, the City or Sam? Why?
2. What are the laws here that are being applied and is their application proper?
3. If you were the on the jury hearing this case, for whom would you decide? Why?
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