One of the most frightening trends in American law is using regulations to nullify our fundamental rights, especially those found in the First Amendment. The most prevalnent tactic is campus speech codes. We’ve seen it with zoning ordinances. A Bible study group meets in homes and zoning regulations claim that the meetings can’t take place anymore.
A California family was fined for holding weekly Bible studies in their home because the meetings were said to violate the city’s zoning regulations.
“Stephanie and Chuck Fromm have been living in their San Juan Capistrano home for 18 years and were shocked when they received a notice of violation from the city. They have already been fined $300 and have been told they will be fined an additional $500 per meeting if they continue to meet without a Conditional Use Permit.”
The city of San Juan Capistrano eventually changed the law after a lot of bad publicity when the story went national.
Beware if you have a temporary pond on your property. Bureaucrats want to regulate them.
At issue is a proposed rule from the federal Environmental Protection Agency that would become part of the federal Clean Water Act.
[Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey] told [an] audience the rule would give the EPA authority to regulate ‘virtually all outdoor water,’ and would surely result in new permit requirements and regulations for land owners.’”
How about posting a sign on your own property? Beware! The regulators see that sign and don’t like it, especially it includes a religious or political message.
“The Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) is ordering that a Ten Commandments sign posted on private property near a state highway be removed.
“Jeannette Golden of Hemphill, Texas purchased the 6 x 12-foot sign from the organization God’s Ten last summer and posted it on her property just off Highway 21. However, according to reports, Golden was soon contacted by the state, which took issue with the sign, stating that the display could be classified as commercial advertising.”
A $125 permit would be needed. In addition, there would be an annual fee of $75 and a $250 surety bond. And if the land owners don’t comply, they could be fined $1000 per day.
When this argument didn’t work, the Texas Department of Transportation tried another regulatory ploy. Jeannette Golden was told that “no permit is possible” because “the sign must be removed as pursuant to the Highway Beautification Act, which relates to advertising.” Of course, the sign is not an advertisement; it’s an expression of her free speech rights.
“‘I wasn’t advertising because that’s my freedom of religion, and that’s what I believe, and I was not informing anybody,’ she told reporters. ‘It was just something that I stood for.’
“Local residents have rallied around Golden by purchasing a billboard not too far from her property that reads ‘In God We Trust.’ Others have verbally expressed support for the right to display the sign.”
Of course she has the right to display the sign as long as it does not obstruct the sight line of motorists.
Regulators and bureaucrats are not constitutionally immune from the Bill of Rights.