CHICAGO – June 3, 2010. Governor Pat Quinn today signed a bill into law that prevents municipalities throughout Illinois from restricting the display of political campaign signs on residential property at any time.
“Government has no place restricting free speech,” said Governor Quinn. “This bill will protect the First Amendment rights of residents across Illinois and strengthens participatory democracy for us all.”
House Bill 3785 prohibits Illinois’ municipalities from restricting the display of outdoor political campaign signs on residential property during any period of time. Under current Illinois law, municipalities may pass and enforce local ordinances establishing time periods during which residents or landowners may display political campaign signs on their property. Under the new law, municipalities may still place reasonable restrictions on the size of such signs.
The new law brings Illinois into compliance with several court cases, including City of Ladue v. Gilleo. The 1994 U.S. Supreme Court decision affirmed that outdoor political yard signs are protected First Amendment speech and municipalities may not prohibit their display on residential property.
The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Michael Tryon (R-Crystal Lake) and Sen. Pamela Althoff (R-McHenry), passed the Illinois General Assembly nearly unanimously and was supported by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Illinois. It takes effect on January 1.
In a statement filed with the Illinois House Elections and Campaign Reform Committee, the ACLU of Illinois stated that, “yard signs are a traditional, effective and protected way for home owners to communicate with their neighbors and passersby about political elections and public issues.” The organization also argued that municipalities should not be able to prohibit the display of such signs at any time since many political candidates announce their candidacies long before an election takes place.