View Full Version : Michigan Farmer Fined for Displaying Political Billboards Critical of Marxism & Obama

03-25-2013, 03:57 PM
March 21, 2013

GAINES TOWNSHIP, Mich. — Attorneys for the Rutherford Institute have come to the defense of a Michigan cattle farmer who was cited and fined for displaying political banners critical of the Obama administration on a farming truck parked on his private 40-acre lot. The banners mounted by Vern Verduin on his farm truck proclaim “Marxism/Socialism = Hunger and Poverty” and “Obama’s ‘Mission Accomplished,’ 8% Unemployment, 16 Trillion Debt.” In censuring Verduin, Gaines Township officials insist that his political banners violate the township’s sign ordinance, which allows only business-related signs on vehicles, restricts the size to no more than 20 square feet, and limits the time period for displaying political signs from 45 days before an election to ten days past an election. Rutherford Institute attorneys will appear in state district court on Friday, March 22, to challenge the township’s actions and sign ordinance as an unconstitutional violation of Verduin’s right to free speech, free expression and equal treatment under the law.

“Americans have a clear First Amendment right to freedom of political expression, whether that ‘expression’ takes place at a podium, on a t-shirt, a billboard, a picket sign, or on the side of a farm truck parked on private property as in the case of Vern Verduin,” said John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute. “By denying this farmer the right to freely express his political views on his own property, no less, city officials have essentially done away with one of the key ingredients in a democracy such as ours, which is the right to freely speak our minds to and about those who represent us. It is our hope the courts will recognize and rectify this wrong.”

In September 2012, Gaines Township officials ordered Vern Verduin, who owns and operates a 40-acre cattle farm, to take down two political banners displayed on one of his farming trucks, which was parked on his private property. The banners proclaimed, “Marxism/Socialism = Hunger and Poverty” and “Obama’s ‘Mission Accomplished,’ 8% Unemployment, 16 Trillion Debt.” City officials justified their demand by pointing to the city’s sign ordinance, which permits business-related signs on vehicles, restricts political signs of more than 20 square feet, and limits the time period for displaying political signs to a time spanning 45 days before an election until ten days past an election. Standing firm in his free speech rights and insisting that politics is a year-round discussion, Verduin continued to display the political banners and signs on his private property. At the same time, the cattle farmer called on city officials to amend the ordinance in order to better respect the rights of individuals wishing to exercise their free speech rights on private property by displaying political signs. City officials refused to accommodate Verduin’s request, and in January 2013 cited him for violating the sign ordinance, which levies a $50 fine. In coming to Verduin’s defense, Rutherford Institute attorneys are challenging the city’s actions and its ordinance as a clear violation of Verduin’s rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. Institute attorneys will appear in the 63rd District Court in Kent County, Michigan at 9:45 am on Friday, March 22, to request that the charges against Verduin be dismissed.

Affiliate attorney Howard van den Heuvel is assisting The Rutherford Institute in its defense of Vern Verduin.

h ttps://www.rutherford.org/publications_resources/on_the_front_lines/rutherford_institute_defends_michigan_farmer_fined _for_displaying_political

Anti Federalist
03-25-2013, 03:59 PM
LOL @ 1st Amendment.

03-25-2013, 04:07 PM
LOL @ 1st Amendment.


03-25-2013, 04:51 PM

03-25-2013, 04:54 PM
Ha! I know that guy and have seen the sign(s) in question!

03-25-2013, 05:20 PM
what part of private property do these assholes not understand???

answer: ALL OF IT!!!

03-25-2013, 05:30 PM
why break the link? makes things harder for the rest of us

Anti Federalist
03-25-2013, 07:43 PM

I know I know...LOL...It says it right there...but...but...BWAHAHAHHAHAHAH!


03-25-2013, 07:44 PM
But no laughing Jack?

What forum am I at, anyways?

03-25-2013, 07:52 PM
He's lucky he doesn't live within a HOA...

03-25-2013, 07:55 PM
So the saga continues....

Man fights to keep supersized political signs
Posted Mar 23, 2013 @ 09:30 AM

Gaines Township —

A Gaines Township man who expresses his political opinions on large trailers awaits a judge's ruling on whether the supersized signs violate a local ordinance.

Vern Verduin appeared in a Kent County district court Friday to defend his messages on two trailers parked in his Gaines Township field. They read "Obama's Mission Accomplished: 8% unemployment. 16 trillion debt." and "Marxism/Socialism (equals) Poverty & Hunger."

Township attorney Crystal Morgan says the ordinance limits political signs to 20 square feet. Verduin says that violates his constitutional rights and objects to language that allows larger signs for commercial purposes.

Judge Steven Servaas asked if a sign saying "I love America" would violate the ordinance. Morgan said yes — if it exceeds 20 feet.

He says he'll issue a decision in about 10 days.

Anti Federalist
03-25-2013, 07:57 PM
But no laughing Jack?

What forum am I at, anyways?



03-25-2013, 10:08 PM
Rutherford changed the link in the OP https://www.rutherford.org/publications_resources/on_the_front_lines/rutherford_institute_defends_michigan_farmer_fined _for_displaying_political

Btw OP and others I've seen doing this. No need to break the link to pro-liberty sites. Link breakage should only happen to the "enemy" links. ;)
We want to spread the liberty, right?

03-26-2013, 05:52 AM
There's a property about 3 miles away that has a "honk if you think Obama sucks" sign, but it's small. While I've never honked, I did feel a bit bad for his nearby neighbors.

04-05-2013, 12:51 PM
Farmer Wins Free Speech Fight Over Political Signs

Today in Kent County, Mich., Judge Steven Servaas was taken aback by a packed room leaping to its feet to applaud his dismissing a zoning-ordinance violation against a cattle farmer, Vern Verduin.

Verduin had famously been issued a citation, which he subsequently challenged, for displaying political messages on the side of two tractor trailers in his cattle pasture. The judge deemed the Gaines Township statute, which limits the size of political signs more strictly than commercial vehicles or billboards, unconstitutional, and found him not responsible for the ticket. The decision doesn’t strike down the ordinance, but it does render it unlikely to be enforced, and, says Verduin’s lawyer, Howard Van Den Heuvel, it “sends a message to all the townships: Make your ordinances as understandable and as open to free political speech as possible.”


04-05-2013, 01:01 PM
^ 8% unemployment? If only (http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-04-05/people-not-labor-force-soar-663000-90-million-labor-force-participation-rate-1979-le)...



04-05-2013, 03:19 PM
The Govt we have today only protects the Rights of those people who say the "Popular Thing", where the "Popular Thing" is restricted to only being supportive of Marxism, Communism, Fascism, and Obama'ism.

However, if you try to use your Right to Free Speech to say something that is considered by the Govt to be "Unpopular", they will lift a finger, or rather their thumb to crush you down, unless of course, you say something intellectual like "Dennis Rodman Pregnant with Illigitimate Son of Kim Jong Un, the Future Leader of the World".

04-18-2013, 11:08 AM
Farmer Wins Free Speech Fight Over Political Signs


Great news! Now this farmer needs to run for city council. I'd donate!