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Larsen v. City of Draper (2004)

15 September 2004 Published in Resolved Cases

Free Expression - On September 14, 2004, the ACLU of Utah and cooperating attorney Brian Barnard filed a complaint and temporary restraining order in Federal District Court challenging as unconstitutional a Draper City ordinance that impermissibly placed durational time limits on political campaign signs according to the content of the signs. In part, the ordinance prohibited display of many candidates’ signs on private property more than thirty days prior to the general election.

The plaintiffs in this suit were: Robert Latham, a Draper resident and attorney who wished to display campaign and political issue signs in his yard, but was thwarted by the city ordinance; Heather Rice, who was concerned about being cited for placing campaign signs for the candidate of her choice in a yard in Draper; and Ken Larsen, a candidate running for Utah governor under the People’s Choice party, who would have liked to immediately begin posting his campaign signs in visible Draper front yards. 

The suit called for an immediate temporary restraining order to prohibit Draper from enforcing the ordinance because it unconstitutionally interfered with free expression and political speech as defined by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and the Utah Constitution.

Less than 48 hours after the complaint and request for an injunction were filed, Draper City agreed not to enforce the offending ordinance between September 15, 2004 and November 2, 2004, Election Day. On October 22, 2004, Draper City agreed to repeal the ordinance. As part of the settlement, the Draper City attorney agreed to write to city attorneys in all other cities in Salt Lake County suggesting they review and repeal similar ordinances.