Alaska Superior Court Orders DOT&PF to clarify campaign sign laws
September 11, 2018
(SitNews) Juneau, Alaska - On Sept. 10, 2018, the Alaska Superior Court ordered the Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities (DOT&PF) to clarify how laws restricting outdoor advertising will be applied during the current campaign season to political signs within and outside of state highway rights of way.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska (ACLU), independent expenditure group Dunleavy for Alaska, and Alaska resident Eric Siebels jointly filed suit against the State of Alaska in August seeking to immediately block enforcement of a state statute barring political signs near roadways and asking for those rules to be struck down as unconstitutional.
“There is no right more fundamental to a democracy than the right of an individual to express their personal political views,” said ACLU of Alaska Executive Director Joshua A. Decker when filing the suit in August. “That is why the U.S. Supreme Court has afforded political speech special protection. If the government wants to seize that right by barring Alaskans from displaying political signs on their own property, they need a more compelling reason than ‘because somebody might see it.’”
The Alaska Superior Court directs:
- Unauthorized signs within state highway rights of way, including both commercial and political signs, remain illegal under AS 19.25.75-180. DOT&PF will continue to enforce this ban; any sign placed within a state highway right of way may be removed by DOT&PF crews without prior notice.
- Small, temporary, political campaign signs no larger than 4’ x 8’ may be displayed on private property adjacent to state highway rights of way by the owners or occupants of that property, provided they have not been paid to display the signs.
- DOT&PF will continue its current practice of not removing small, temporary, political campaign signs from private property outside highway rights of way.
- All signs that pose a safety concern to roadway users will be subject to removal by DOT&PF regardless of the content of the signs or whether they are located on private property.
In 1998, Alaskans overwhelmingly voted to keep the state free from outdoor advertising, both within and along the state’s public rights of way.
Alaska statutes and regulations address unauthorized signs, including such signs displayed on parked vehicles and some signs on private property. Those statutes and regulations remain in full force and effect, except for small, temporary, political campaign signs permitted by the Court’s order outside highway rights of way.
On the Web:
Download the Alaska Superior Court Order (PDF)
Suit Filed Against State of Alaska for Unconstitutional Crackdown on Political Speech
SitNews - August 24, 2018
Editing by Mary Kauffman, SitNews
Source of News:
Alaska Department of Transportation
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