PLYMOUTH, Mass. (CBS Boston) – Joe Casieri of Plymouth isn’t shy about letting passersby know his feelings for President Biden. He has a sign firmly planted in his front yard that reads “Biden Is Not My President.”
But it was the very first sign he put up, that got the town’s attention. That one was simple. It said “(Expletive) Biden”. But Joe took it down after 15 minutes he says.
“It wasn’t even up for days and days and days, it was only up for a little bit,” Casieri said. “And then it got taken down because I figured that’s a little bit over the top, so I took it down.”
The problem for Joe was that Plymouth has by-laws prohibiting speech with offensive language, and political signs that are left up for more than a week after an election.
So, the town told Joe to take down the “Not My President” sign. Joe called the ACLU who sent the town a letter, explaining how the by-laws were unconstitutional. “Much of the speech that people want to engage in may be deemed insulting,” said ACLU attorney Ruth Bourquin.
Which is something that is open to interpretation, Casieri quickly pointed out. Bourquin agreed. “That involves the government in making content-based distinctions about your speech, which is a scary thing,” she said.
So the town acquiesced and Joe put back up the “Not My President” sign.
“Everybody has the right to freedom of speech,” Casieri said. “That’s what this case was about. Everybody has the right whether it’s left, right, middle.”
Plymouth Town Manager Melissa Arrighi said the town will work to update the bylaws so no one’s rights are violated. “But we do want to make sure that we keep some civility in some way,” Arrighi said.
Casieri, in the meantime, has won a victory against the town’s by-laws. But how long does he intend to keep the sign up? That, he said, is something he hasn’t decided yet.