Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Wake Up and Smell the Constitution
Well Respected 1st Amendment Lawyer Responds to the Gutless Editorials
Over the last few days, the 20thsenatorial staff has been in contact with Attorney Lawrence Otter. Attorney Otter has successfully challeneged prohibtive speech ordinances throughout the State of Pennsylvania.He has never lost a legal challenge in some 50 plus cases. Here is his response to the Times Leader and Citizens Voice editorials regarding the State Police's action in taking down political signs in public rights of way.
What part of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution* and Article 1 of the Pennsylvania Constitution** do the Editorial writers of the local newspaper NOT UNDERSTAND.
Political signs are as old as the republic.
The Times Leader correctly opined that:
“CAMPAIGN SIGNS SPROUT each spring in these parts almost as reliably as the daffodils.”
What is not acceptable is their removal by the state police.
(If they were a safety hazard I would be forced to agree about removal of a traffic hazard)
But what it sounds like to me is a typical “yard sign” posted in the right of way near a state highway.
THIS IS PROTECTED POLITICAL SPEECH
A FUNDAMENTAL AMERICAN VALUE AND RIGHT!!!!!!!!
The First Amendment “has it fullest and most urgent application to speech uttered during a campaign for political office.” Eu v. San Francisco County Democratic Cent. Comm., 489 U.S. 214, 223 (1989). Freedom of speech is just as important in primary elections as it is in general elections. “Speech concerning public affairs is more than self -expression, it is the essence of self government." Garrison v. Louisiana , 379 U.S. 64, 74-75 (1964). “The maintenance of the opportunity for free political discussion to the end that government may be responsive to the will of the people and that changes may be obtained by lawful means, an opportunity essential to the security of the Republic, is a fundamental principle of our constitutional system.” Stromberg v. California, 283 U.S. 359, 369 (1981).
The newspaper writers need to go back for a refresher course in high school civics.
Maybe this needs to be tested in Court?
Lawrence M. Otter
Attorney at Law
[formerly from Hazleton, Luzerne county]
P.S. IN CASE YOU FORGOT:
*UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION
Bill of Rights
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
DECLARATION OF RIGHTS
That the general, great and essential principles of liberty and free government may be recognized and unalterably established, WE DECLARE THAT -
Freedom of Press and Speech; Libels
Section 7. The printing press shall be free to every person who may undertake to examine the proceedings of the Legislature or any branch of government, and no law shall ever by made to restrain the right thereof. The free communication of thoughts and opinions is one of the invaluable rights of man, and every citizen may freely speak, write and print on any subject, being responsible for the abuse of that liberty….