New Jersey Supreme Court Issues First Amendment Landmark Decision


(February 5, 2009) – In a landmark decision issued today, the New Jersey Supreme Court unanimously held that the Lawrence Township sign ordinance violated Mr. DeAngelo’s First Amendment right to free speech and is unconstitutional. At issue was IBEW Local 269’s use of a 10-foot tall rat balloon during a labor protest at a Gold’s Gym in Lawrence Township. The police cited a Local 269 business agent, Wayne DeAngelo, under the ordinance and the Union fought the citation asserting that the law unconstitutionally infringed the fundamental right of free expression. The Union tenaciously fought the case to the state’s highest court, which validated the Union’s right to display the inflatable rat balloon and directed that the summons issued against Mr. DeAngelo be dismissed. Local 269’s attorney, Andrew L. Watson from the firm of Pellettieri Rabstein & Altman said: “Unions and their members have a long history and tradition of exercising the right of free speech and they have developed orderly and non-threatening means of protest and expression. This decision vindicates the rights of Unions and all of New Jersey’s citizens to peacefully and effectively express themselves.”

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