A New Jersey man, Joseph Hornick Jr., faces potential jail time over his Donald Trump flag.
There is an ordinance in West Long Branch, where Hornick lives, which prohibits which prohibits the display of political signs more than 30 days before an election. The New Jersey primary takes place on June 7.
Hornick has said that he would rather go to jail than take down his flag. He compared it to flying a sports team’s flag, telling his local NBC station, “I’m not a football fan, I’m not a sports fan, but I’m surely a Donald Trump fan.”
The penalty for his crime is 90 days in jail or a fi ne of $2,000.
The Americans for Civil Liberties Union has supported his refusal to not take down the flag, according to USA today.
Eugene Volokh, a law professor at the University of California in Los Angeles, told the Washington Post that Hornick is right: placing restrictions specifically on political signs violates the First Amendment right to freedom of speech. However, the city would be within its rights to provide restrictions that are content neutral.
John Brown University students had mixed reaction to this news, though all of them questioned the logic behind the law.
“To think that it was illegal for this man to fly a political flag, yet as radical groups of protesters stomp and spit on American flags, police stand in the way of those trying to stop them,” said Josiah Sprout, sophomore moderate Trump supporter.
Haley Maguire, senior communication major, said she thinks the man should follow the law. However, she also said he should be allowed to voice his opinion and show support for his candidate.
In Arkansas there are no known laws similar to the New Jersey law; however, property owners must approve a sign before it is put up on their property.
Britt Wisener, undeclared freshman, said, “West Long Branch’s town ordinance against political signs is a clear violation of the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights, which states, ‘Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech.’”
“Since the institution of the Fourteenth Amendment, this also includes statutes instituted at lower levels of government,” Wisener said. “In this case, the freedom of speech in support of a political candidate is protected, making the ordinance unconstitutional.”
“Hopefully, this statute will be changed as a result of the publicity, opening up this specifi c form of free speech to all residents of West Long Branch,” Wisener said.