A Michigan farmer and his supporters were able to celebrate in court on Thursday after a judge ruled that he didn’t need to take down his over-sized political signs.
Gaines Township had previously cited Vern Verduin for political signs that he had placed on the side of two semi-trucks on his property.
One of the signs reads, "Marxism/Socialism = Poverty & hunger." The other reads, "Obama's 'mission accomplished.' 8% unemployment. 16 trillion debt."
The township limits political signs to 20 square feet. Verduin's are on the side of trucks and are obviously much larger. Verduin questioned the township’s sanctions against him, arguing that their position equated to censorship and that it was a violation of his right to free speech. The township has no such size restrictions on commercial signs.
Judge Steven Servaas of Kent County's 63rd District Court agreed with Verduin. "In this application in this case that it is unconstitutional because of the distinction between political and commercial signs," Servaas said.
After the judge’s ruling, many in the courtroom broke into applause. "It's good for the township. It's good for the nation," said Verduin.
Attorneys for American Civil Liberties Union helped Verduin with his case, according to Wood TV.
Miriam Auckerman, of the ACLU, said: "The court really looked at and decided this was a political sign and that there cannot be this distinction between political and commercial signs. They have to be treated equally and if they can't, you can't have stricter limits on political speech than commercial speech.”
Now that he’s won, Verduin might not even keep the signs. "I don't know that I'm going to keep them up, even," he said. "Maybe do something different. I don't know. We made our point."
Verduin has been a volunteer firefighter for a number of years. “I’m not looking to stick it in the township’s face, really, I mean, they’re my boss partly,” Verduin said. “I hope there’s no vendetta personally.”