Politcal Speech and First Amendment
The dust-up over sandwich boards in downtown North Adams has some people concerned that the real intention is to stifle political speech. Some suggest that the planning board's actions are directly related to Cup and Saucer's sidewalk support of Dick Alcombright's
campaign for mayor.
I would tell the city to tread very, very carefully. While "commercial speech" is treated somewhat differently than individual speech under the first amendment, I've watched similar cases play out and the city almost always loses:
From the Supreme Court
“a content-based restriction on political speech in a public forum . . . must be subjected to the most exacting scrutiny. Thus, we have required the State to show that the regulation is necessary to serve a compelling state interest and that it is narrowly drawn to achieve that end.”
Boos v. Barry, 485 U.S. 312, 321 (1988).
This also applies to the city's time restrictions on political lawn signs. Time and time again such ordinances have been struck down because they do not serve the state interest. Just sayin'....
(Thanks to CB for the research.)