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Restrictions on Campaign Signs are unconstitutional, says Ju

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Restrictions on Campaign Signs are unconstitutional, says Justice Institute
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Shadrack White, director of the Mississippi Justice Institute
MPB News

An effort is underway to warn city governments not to infringe on the free speech rights of residents who display campaign signs. MPB's Ashley Norwood reports.

The Mississippi Municipal League and the Mississippi Justice Institute are sending a list of dos and don'ts to all local governments this week. The list suggests that each municipality consult with its city attorney about any regulations of political signs.

Shadrack White is the director of the institute.

"Those kinds of regulations are content-based regulations and so you really should not have rules that treat political signs different from church signs different from ideological signs because those rules are treating different kinds of speech differently," said White.

The idea to generate a list comes after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled it is unconstitutional for a city to regulate signs based on content. Joshua Tom is the legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union in Mississippi. He says if local government officials do not adhere to the Supreme Court ruling, they are vulnerable to lawsuits.

"We really want to make sure that restrictions, governmental restrictions, on speech are very narrow. Free speech is one of our most important rights. It's the right that many of our other rights are built upon and so we should make sure the government has a really good reason before it starts regulating speech," said Tom.

Tom says he encourages local leaders to look at other rules and be sure they are not interfering with their citizens' right to freedom of speech.

Ashley Norwood, MPB News.