Opinion Your Views — 31 July 2014
Banning ‘for sale’ signs flies in 
the face of the First Amendment

By Robert Roberts, Alexandria
(File Photo)

To the editor:

It is shocking to discover that the city that was frequented by our first president, George Washington, contains unconstitutional prohibitions against free speech in its municipal code.

Section 10-4-13 prohibits the use of “for sale” signs in cars. Although this infringement of free speech does not affect our many wealthy neighbors, it most certainly affects the working poor in Alexandria. Similarly, the cost of the ticket — $40 — is a minor annoyance to our wealthy residents, but can be a serious sum for others.

To rub salt in the wound, if you want to challenge this unconstitutional infringement, the Alexandria District Court requires a notarized affidavit merely to get a court date. (Thank goodness we all get so exercised about asking for ID before heading into the voting booth.)

It is depressing to think that the commonwealth’s attorney’s office is involved and actually prosecutes this unconstitutional ordinance. You would think they would know better.

And its enforcement also necessarily affects the police and parking staff. They are obliged to enforce it by insisting that that an unconstitutional ordinance has the power of the city police and courts behind it, making them violate their oath.

In 2007, the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals found a similar rule in Glendale, Ohio, unconstitutional. Many judges in other municipalities have struck down similar laws as unconstitutional infringements on speech.

Alexandria City Council should immediately repeal this section of the code. This is America, not Soviet Russia.

 

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