R.I. town agrees not to enforce limits on political signs

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

WEST WARWICK, R.I. — West Warwick officials will stop enforcing a ban on political signs they deemed too big and pay $30,000 in damages and attorneys fees to settle a lawsuit accusing them of violating a resident’s freedom of speech.

The lawsuit was filed in October by Thomas Jones, who was forced to take down signs from his property that supported his candidacy for General Assembly and criticized a proposed water park.

U.S. District Judge Mary Lisi approved the settlement yesterday.

The American Civil Liberties Union says the settlement bars town officials from subjecting political signs to size, duration or other restrictions more stringent than those imposed on nonpolitical signs.

The ACLU had sued on Jones’ behalf, alleging authorities violated his right to free speech and that the ordinance was unconstitutional and selectively enforced.

West Warwick Solicitor Timothy Williamson did not return a call seeking comment in time for this story.

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