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Riverton sued over political sign ordinance

Published: Friday, Feb. 24 2012 9:42 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — A Riverton man has sued his city in federal court, claiming its political sign ordinance violates his constitutionally protected right to free speech.

In a lawsuit filed Friday, a resident identified as J. Johnson seeks a temporary restraining order to prevent Riverton City from enforcing the ordinance that prohibits posting political signs supporting causes or candidates until they have declared their candidacy or for more than 7 days after an election.

"No compelling government interest justifies the restriction of plaintiff’s right to

expressive activity, and the ordinance unconstitutionally chills and/or silences otherwise lawful and protected speech without justification," the lawsuit states.

The owner of a political sign may obtain a city permit to post it longer than the 7-day restriction. But Johnson claims the ordinance regulating political signs is more restrictive than regulations for commercial or other signs.

"Other types of temporary signs do not have any durational limits, and do not

require permits in order to remain up after a certain time period," the lawsuit states, citing ordinances for garage sales or community events.

Johnson also seeks unspecified damages for being unable to post campaign signs for fear of being prosecuted criminally or civilly by the city.

The complaint included a letter from Johnson's attorney, Brian Barnard, to city attorney Ryan Carter, advising him that similar ordinances have been found to violate the Constitution.

Barnard sued Draper and Mapleton over the same issue in 2010. The lawsuits were dismissed after the cities agreed to repeal their ordinances.

Matthew Brown

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