Rubin v. Theobald

Rubin v. Theobald

Introduction

David Rubin is a resident of the Town of Manlius, New York. He wishes to exercise his First Amendment right to engage in political speech by posting yard signs in support of his favorite political candidates on his private property.

The Town of Manlius, however, prohibited individuals from displaying political yard signs except during the thirty days before and seven days after an election. Even when citizens are allowed to display such signs, they were first required to obtain a permit.

While it is true that the government may limit political signs if it is in the public interest, such as when signs create safety concerns, any such regulations must be tailored to survive strict scrutiny in court. That is, they must take care not to overly infringe on First Amendment political expression rights by being carefully drafted to address only compelling state interests. In this case, no safety interest involving political yard signs merits infringing some of the most basic rights enshrined in our Constitution.

Dr. Rubin wishes to display political yard signs more than thirty days before and seven days after scheduled elections. Furthermore, Dr. Rubin does not believe that he should have to seek the Town’s permission before exercising his First Amendment rights.

On August 6, the Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) legal team, representing Dr. Rubin, filed a lawsuit challenging the town’s unconstitutional restrictions on political yard signs.  In early September, the Town of Manlius repealed the code and agreed to not enact further unconstitutional restrictions on yard signs.  The case was voluntarily dismissed.

Case Documents

District Court for the Northern District of New York

Commentary

The Center for Competitive Politics is now the Institute for Free Speech.