Scabby the Rat comes out winner in free speech battle
- From Bill Mears, CNN.com
The court concluded that while townships have a right to maintain an 'aesthetic environment' and ensure public safety, its restrictions on expressive displays 'do not justify a content-based restriction of non-commercial speech.'
'There is no evidence to suggest that a rat balloon is significantly more harmful to aesthetics or safety than a similar item being displayed as an advertisement or commercial logo,' wrote Justice John Wallace Jr.
The balloon and others like it, nicknamed Scabby by the Chicago-based company that made them, have been used by labor unions as street theater since 1990 to protest anti-union activities.
IBEW members were marching on the sidewalk outside Gold's Gym in Lawrence Township in April 2005 in response to a dispute with a contractor working at the business.