Political sign law is repealed in Manlius

Manlius Town Hall


he Town of Manlius has repealed its political sign law. The issue was forced by the former dean of Syracuse's Communications School. David Rubin Sued the town over its law for political signs saying it was a violation of the first amendment.

He wrote about it in his monthly special column in the Post Standard and Rubin says the lawsuit stems from 2008 when town officials told his wife three signs on their lawn needed to be removed because they violated time restrictions.

More than a dozen concerned neighbors gathered into the Manlius town hall to discuss a town ordinance regarding political signs which has been on record for 20 years.

"This is a classic first amendment free speech issue about whether a private citizen has a right to put a political sign up on his lawn versus the communities right through the town government to protect beautification," says Rubin.

The town created the law to keep Manlius aesthetically pleasing. It limits the size of political signs and when they can be posted. One of the sections in the Manlius town code David Rubin sued over was a section which required neighbors to get a permit from the town before putting up a sign.

Rubin says there has been precedent set against this type of action from a Supreme Court case in 1994.

"This is not a new issue and the Supreme Court decided unanimously, let me repeat that... unanimously. The homeowner has a first amendment right to use his or her lawn or window in an apartment in order to express their feelings on any political issue," says Rubin.

The town unanimously repealed the political sign section from its code.

Ed Theobald is the Town Supervisor in Manlius."The fact that we received a lawsuit acknowledging this particular code in our law that they felt was unconstitutional -- so that's a concern of ours, because we don't want to infringe on people's rights. So we felt that it was important that we looked at this law," says Theobald.

Rubin says his lawsuit is still live and he will be watching them in the the coming months as they determine what new rules and regulations are best situated for their needs.