Michael Bagenstos came home on Tuesday, to find a bright neon-green notice from Palm Beach County Code Enforcement posted on his Trump-Pence sign. He said that the notice told him that he had 10 days to remove the sign or that they would remove it for him, according to WPTV.
He questioned why he had to remove his sign, which is in his private yard, when his neighbor is allowed to fly a KKK flag. According to code enforcement, he is in violation of the United Land Development Code, which states that “campaign signs on private property are permitted, but are to be removed “within 10 days after the election date.”
The director of Palm Beach County Code Enforcement said that the county does not regulate the content of flags. Jim Green, the attorney for the Palm Beach County Chapter of the ACLU, said that he thought Bagenstos “had a strong argument because he’s got a sign expressing a political belief on his own private property.” Green told local media News4Jax that he wasn’t aware of the specific details of the code but that the First Amendment clearly protected political expression, and that sign ordinances fall under the scrutiny of the First Amendment.
The director of Code Enforcement said that if Bagenstos wanted to keep the sign that it would need “to be altered in such a way that would no longer be deemed a campaign sign” and that he would have to get a permit.
In the past, ACLU has publicized misleading legal information, such as when they told everybody that the law prohibits DC police from having body cameras on at protests. In a shocking twist, the ACLU appears to be saying something reasonable, for once.
This is an example of a county government attempting to interfere in people’s first amendment speech. The code was likely put in place because the signs are seen as a blight, akin to not taking down your Christmas decorations, but the government doesn’t get to decide what signs you have on your private property.