A New Jersey woman faces daily monetary fines if she refuses to remove obscene signs critical of President Joe Biden, NJ.com reported.
Patricia Dilascio, who lives in Roselle Park, New Jersey, has displayed anti-Biden flags containing profane words on her fence. The signs belong to her daughter, Andrea Dick.
During a virtual hearing Thursday, Roselle Park Municipal Court Judge Gary Bundy ordered Dilascio to remove the flags within a week or be subject to $250-per-day fines. Dilascio was given 20 days to appeal the decision.
The flags include phrases such as, "F*** Biden," "Joe Biden Sucks," "Socialism Sucks, Biden Blows," and "Don't Blame Me I Voted For Trump." Three signs included the F-word.
Bundy said his decision had nothing to do with politics.
"It is a case, pure and simple, about language," Bundy said, according to NJ.com. "This ordinance does not restrict political speech. Neither this town or its laws may abridge or eliminate Ms. Dilascio’s freedom of speech.
"However, freedom of speech is not simply an absolute right. It is clear from state law and statutes that we cannot simply put up the umbrella of the First Amendment and say everything and anything is protected speech."
A borough code enforcement officer last month issued a violation notice to Dilascio’s house pertaining to an ordinance forbidding "any obscene material, communication or performance or other article or item which is obscene within the Borough."
The officer then issued a court summons a few days later after the signs were not removed.
Roselle Park Mayor Joseph Signorello III, D, also called Dick to explain why the signs need to be removed.
"It’s been brought to our attention less because of the political aspect of it, but the vulgarity of it," Signorello said last month, NJ.com reported. "The real problem is, from a neighbor’s perspective, it’s a block away from an elementary school. It’s in a high-visibility area for children. Most of the ire was drawn from a lot of local parents."
Dick refused to remove the signs, citing First Amendment protections. Her attorney, Michael Campagna, argued the move by saying the judge was akin to "censorship."
"I am a firm believer in the First Amendment," Campagna said. "I may not believe in what you’re saying, but I absolutely believe that you have the right to say it. That’s what our democracy is about. If you tell people that they cannot say something, that they cannot print something, that they cannot put a sign up, we’re going into censorship.
"In Nazi Germany, when Hitler didn’t like something, they burned the books, and then they burned the people. I don’t think we want that to happen in Roselle Park."
Campagna argued that standards for obscenity have changed over the years, and that using the F-word no longer has a sexual connotation in society and simply is a colloquialism.
Dick and her mom attended Thursday's virtual hearing but did not say anything beyond thanking the judge after he explained how to appeal.
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