Wednesday, 5 Oct 2022

She Hates Biden. Some of Her Neighbors Hate the Way She Shows It.

A local judge ordered a New Jersey woman to take down political banners over obscenity complaints, setting up a First Amendment fight.

By Ed Shanahan

Andrea Dick is a die-hard supporter of former President Donald J. Trump and thinks the election was stolen from him, although that claim has been thoroughly discredited. She does not like President Biden, and that is putting it mildly.

Her opinions are clear in the blunt slogans blaring from the banners outside her New Jersey home: “Don’t Blame Me/I Voted for Trump” and several others that attack Mr. Biden in crude terms. Several feature a word that some people find particularly objectionable but whose use the Supreme Court long ago ruled could not be restricted simply to protect those it offends.

When local officials asked her to take down several of the banners that they said violated an anti-obscenity ordinance, she refused. Now, she is resisting a judge’s order that she do so and pledging to fight it in court on free speech grounds.

“It’s my First Amendment right,” she said in an interview on Monday, “and I’m going to stick with that.”

In a country where the political fault lines are increasingly jagged and deep, Ms. Dick’s case is the latest of several such disputes to highlight the delicate balance local officials must sometimes strike between defending free speech and responding to concerns about language that some residents find offensive.

Ms. Dick, 54, said she acquired the banners — which are available from Amazon and other retailers — earlier this year, but did not hang them on the home in Roselle Park where she lives with her mother, or on the fence outside, until Memorial Day.

“Something must have gotten me worked up,” she said.

Shortly after the holiday weekend, she said, she became aware that some Roselle Park residents, noting that her home was near a school, were upset about the language on the banners and about the potential for passing children to see it.

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