February 5, 2009
Rat As Free Speech
A municipal ordinance that prohibited balloon-type inflated displays for the purpose of attracting the attention of pedestrians and motorists was held to be an unconstitutional infringement of free speech rights by a unanimous New Jersey Supreme Court as applied to a large inflated rat. The rat, a symbol of union unrest, was flown in front of a Gold's Gym to protest the use of a contractor:
Non-verbal, eye-catching symbolic speech represents a form of expression designed to reach a large number of people. TheTownship's elimination of an entire medium of expresssion without a readily available alternative renders the ordinance overbroad.
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