Displaying political signs on your property – whether in your yard or your window – is a fundamental practice of free speech and expression protected under the U.S. Constitution and the New Jersey Constitution. Political signs often promote a particular candidate for public office or a ballot measure, but political signs also include messages in support of a cause or principle, like “Black Lives Matter,” or other messages of public interest. While the right to display political signs on private property is not absolute, it is protected under the law.
Many municipalities in New Jersey have adopted ordinances that place restrictions on when, where, and how individuals may display yard signs. Depending on how the ordinances are worded and whether they single out political messages, they may infringe on your rights. Towns may not subject political signs to different or more restrictive treatment than other signs. However, reasonable limits on the number of signs you can have and how or when you display them are generally constitutional so long as the limits apply to all signs uniformly and address legitimate public concerns. For example, an ordinance disallowing all lighted signs to prevent distracted driving would likely be permissible. Towns can also prohibit political signs on public property in certain cases.
If you believe your town has an ordinance that unconstitutionally limits your display of political signs, or if your homeowners’ association has placed unreasonable limits on your rights of free speech and expression, you can complete an intake form with ACLU-NJ online.