Lawyers Pan Ruling Against NJ Woman’s ‘F*** Biden’ Signs
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Attorneys Deride ‘Ridiculous and Unconstitutional’ Ruling Ordering N.J. Woman to Remove ‘F*** Biden’ Sign From Lawn

Signs ordered to be taken down by NJ judge

A municipal judge in New Jersey on Thursday ruled that a female homeowner’s anti Joe Biden political signs — several of which included the word “fuck” — violated a borough ordinance prohibiting obscenities and must be removed, NJ.com reported Friday. The ruling was met with derision by attorneys, many of whom said the judge’s order ran contra to First Amendment protections against censoring political speech.

According to the report, Roselle Park Municipal Court Judge Gary Bundy ordered homeowner Patricia Dilascio to remove the signs from her front lawn or face a fine of $250 per day. The signs — which include the phrases “Fuck Biden and fuck you for voting for him” and “Fuck Biden, not my president” — belong to Dilascio’s daughter, Andrea Dick.

“This is not a case about politics. It is a case, pure and simple, about language,” Bundy wrote in the opinion. “This ordinance does not restrict political speech. Neither this town or its laws may abridge or eliminate Ms. Dilascio’s freedom of speech. However, freedom of speech is not simply an absolute right. It is clear from state law and statutes that we cannot simply put up the umbrella of the First Amendment and say everything and anything is protected speech.”

The ordinance at issue prohibits homeowners from displaying “any obscene material, communication or performance or other article or item which is obscene within the Borough.”  “Obscene” is defined as “any material, communication or performance” that would be considered as appealing to “prurient interest,” that describes or depicts sexual conduct, and that lacks any “serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.”

According to NJ.com, Dick’s attorney, Michael Campagna, contended that the definition of obscenity had evolved since the 1920s, when it was considered obscene for women to show their knees in public.

“I am a firm believer in the First Amendment, I may not believe in what you’re saying, but I absolutely believe that you have the right to say it. That’s what our democracy is about. If you tell people that they cannot say something, that they cannot print something, that they cannot put a sign up, we’re going into censorship,” he said.

“In Nazi Germany, when Hitler didn’t like something, they burned the books and then they burned the people,” Campagna said. “I don’t think we want that to happen in Roselle Park.”

Roselle Park’s Democratic mayor Joseph Signorello had said that the home was close to a school and caused outrage among local residents

“Today was a win for the borough and decency,” Signorello told NJ.com. “While we respect the views of our residents, there’s no place for profanity by a school and school children.”

Dick has been steadfast in her refusal to remove the signs and says the speech is protected by the U.S. Constitution.

Attorneys were quick to pillory the ruling, which seemingly violates U.S. Supreme Court precedent set in the landmark 1971 case Cohen v. California. In that case, a man protesting the Vietnam War was charged with a violating a “breach of peace” statute for wearing a jacket that said, “FUCK THE DRAFT. STOP THE WAR.”

Holding that “one man’s vulgarity is another’s lyric,” the high court ruled that the government cannot regulate an individual’s right to use curse words to protect public morality.

“This is a ridiculous and unconstitutional decision. (It’s also offensive, and absurd, for her attorney to compare this local-government censorship with Nazi Germany),” New York-based attorney Sean Hecht wrote.

“F this judge’s ruling,” wrote Georgia State Law School professor Anthongy Michael Kreis.

[image via YouTube/ABC7NY screengrab]

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.