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    :: Friday, February 06, 2009 ::

    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.
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