By William R. Toler
That was the reaction of the IR’s Corey Friedman when he heard the news of a appealate court’s decision to rule in favor of a North Carolina town who imposed a local sign ordinance on a man for expressing his opinion…on his house.
According the News & Observer:
The Fourth Circuit Court found that the town government did not violate the First Amendment by threatening to fine the late David Bowden for the message he had painted on his house in 2009. Three judges unanimously overturned a lower-court decision in the Bowden estate’s favor.
“We acknowledge that the Town’s Sign Ordinance, and in particular its application to Bowden, has aggravated some Cary residents who believe it excessively restrictive,” wrote Judge Albert Diaz. “But their recourse here lies with the ballot, not the Constitution.”
What’s the saying?
Oh yes: You can’t fight city hall.
Recourse on the ballot will be impossible, given the libido dominandi of those in government.
Some people have argued that this case isn’t about the First Amendment…that Bowden could have displayed his message in the “approved” sign restrictions set out in the draconian policy.
First off, how could Bowden be charged in violation of the arbitrary ordinance…his message was on his house, not a sign.
Second, who is a board of “elected officials” to tell a man what he can or can’t do on his own property?
Whether or not we have a Constitution that is alleged to protect rights, those rights do exist. Not by words written on some peice of paper, but by being human. We have the right to life, liberty and property. As long as we do not infringe on the rights of another individual, we should be secure to excercise our own rights.
Sadly, this is not the case.
Those who are part of government, be it local, state or federal, commonly make arbitrary legislation (codes, statutes, regulations, laws) that run roughshod over those they “vow” to “protect.”
There are far too many so-called laws, statutes, etc., that make criminals where there is no victim. The only crime is violating the legislation and the state pretends to be the victim.
In this case, the victim was David Bowden. Despite the argument over whether or not the road construction project caused damage to his property and despite his decision not to cooperate with the town government, he was chastised by the government for disobeying what a group of people deemed acceptable for everyone else.
But hey, that’s democracy for you.
From here, Bowden’s estate could ask for an en banc hearing of the full circuit, or appeal directly to the Supreme Court.
To again quote Friedman, “Supremes, the ball is in your Court.
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