South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Law Prohibiting Many “For Sale” Signs on Parked Vehicles Violates First Amendment
Description

Appeals court held that a town ordinance that no vehicles with for sale signs on them could be parked on the streets of the town was unconstitutional as it was too sweeping of a restriction on commercial speech.

Topic Constitutional Law
Key Words

First Amendment, Commercial Speech, Ordinance, For Sale Signs

C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts

Pagan put a For Sale sign on his car and left it parked on the street in front of his residence. A police officer noticed the sign and told Pagan to remove it, as it violated the Glendale Traffic Code which prohibits putting vehicles for sale out on the street. Such vehicles must be on a driveway or private property. Pagan sued, claiming the ordinance violated his First Amendment rights. It was more restrictive of commercial speech than the law allows. The district court held for Glendale; Pagan appealed.

Decision

Reversed and remanded. The ordinance unconstitutionally restricted commercial speech. Contrary to the claim of Glendale that it is a parking ordinance, not a speech ordinance, the ordinance raises free speech issues. The ordinance is not content neutral as to time, place or manner of speech. The burden is always on the government to show that speech rights have not been infringed upon; Glendale has failed to do so here. Restrictions on speech must be narrowly tailored to address a specific issue; not sweeping as here.

Citation

Pagan v. Fruchey, 492 F.3d 766 (6th Cir., 2007)

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