Columnists

Letter to the Editor: The Libertarian Party of Hamilton County Condemns Sign Ordinance

Dear Editor,

On Monday April 11th, the Hamilton County Commissioners passed a sign ordinance (04-11-22-A) that specifically targets political speech. Not only did they pass the ordinance while early voting was already taking place, they also suspended the rules to make the new ordinance effective immediately. Changing the rules in the middle of the game certainly does not give the impression of fair play.

The 1st Amendment clearly and specifically bars governments from restricting political speech. Furthermore, Indiana Law is very clear about not targeting signs based on their content. IC 36- 1-3-11(c) clearly states:

“an ordinance or a regulation of a political subdivision relating to the number or size of signs is unenforceable during the following period:

(1) Beginning sixty (60) days before an election.

(2) Ending at the beginning of the sixth day after the election.”

This recently passed ordinance in Hamilton County, Indiana, pertains specifically and exclusively to polling locations and, therefore, is directed at infringing on constitutionally protected political speech. It also clearly contradicts IC 36-1-3-11(c).

This is not the first time Hamilton County has exhibited overreaching control on political signage. They passed an ordinance in 2018 that was subsequently struck down. The judge ruling on that case said, “The restrictions created a chilling effect on free speech.” It seems our commissioners are having trouble grasping the concept that it is not their place or responsibility to govern freedom of speech.

The Libertarian Party of Hamilton County condemns this ordinance as a violation of Indiana State Law as well as a First Amendment infringement.

Lauri Shillings,
Chair, Libertarian Party of Hamilton County Indiana