City bans “God Bless America” Signs?

| December 7 2013
Christopher Cook

When exactly did we tell government: “We are your serfs”?

They make it their business to mind your business. And recently busybodies have made it their business to ban doorknobs in Vancouver (next stop: your town?), and fraternity parties in Boston–if thrown by MIT students (who sometimes jump up and down on plexiglass skylights, fall four stories, and injure their head and genitals).

But this time the busiest bodies of all can be found in Bartow, Florida, where code officials threatened to fine residents who stuck “God Bless America” signs on their lawns. Some residents were outraged by what they regarded as an attack on religion and patriotism. The city says its beef is with temporary lawn signs themselves and not the content of the signs, but many residents were outraged the sign ban exists at all.

And all the outrage may end up paying off. Chastened by the the blowback, officials have agreed to let the signs stay for now, and may ultimately allow homeowners to decide what should adorn their lawns.


See Gilleo v. City of Ladue (SCOTUS 1994). Towns can regulate signs in order to prevent safety hazards, for example signs must not obstruct a view or distract motorists. But in the absence of safety hazards towns cannot prohibit residential signs, they cannot dictate the maximum number of signs, and they cannot dictate the size of signs.