Michigan farmer Vern Verduin has won the right to display signs critical of Pres. Obama - on Verduin's own truck and property - after Gaines Township officials took him to court in an effort to force him to remove them.
In response to First Amendment arguments raised by The Rutherford Institute, a state district court has dismissed charges against the Michigan cattle farmer who was cited and fined for displaying political banners critical of the Obama administration on a farming truck parked on his private 40-acre lot.
The banners mounted by Vern Verduin on his farm truck read:
- "Marxism/Socialism = Hunger and Poverty" and
- "Obama's 'Mission Accomplished,' 8% Unemployment, 16 Trillion Debt
Verduin, Gaines Township officials alleged that his political banners violate the township's sign ordinance, which allows only business-related signs on vehicles, restricts the size to no more than 20 square feet, and limits the time period for displaying political signs from 45 days before an election to ten days past an election.
But, Judge Steven Servaas of the 63rd District Court found the sign ordinance for the Gaines Township to be unconstitutional, agreeing with The Rutherford Institute's arguments that the ordinance violated the First Amendment because it treated commercial speech and advertising more favorably than political speech.
In September 2012, Gaines Township officials ordered Vern Verduin, who owns and operates a 40-acre cattle farm, to take down two political banners displayed on one of his farming trucks, which was parked on his private property.
Standing firm in his free speech rights and insisting that politics is a year-round discussion, Verduin continued to display the political banners and signs on his private property.