Ohio couple fight to display large Bush-Cheney sign

By The Associated Press
10.17.04

HUDSON, Ohio — The right of a Republican activist and his wife to put a big campaign sign for Bush-Cheney outside of their home will be debated in court.

The American Civil Liberties Union is taking up the case for Summit County GOP Chairman Alex Arshinkoff and his wife Karen, who want the 4-by-8-foot sign to remain, even though this northeast Ohio town has an ordinance that limits any resident’s political signs to a total of eight square feet. The Arshinkoffs’ sign is 32 square feet.

The city about 20 miles southeast of Cleveland has fined Arshinkoff’s wife, who is the owner of the property, $75 per day since Oct. 1, and the city filed a minor misdemeanor charge against her alleging a zoning violation.

Jody Roberts, communications manager for Hudson, said the city is merely enforcing an ordinance that is designed to maintain a tidy appearance. She said the city has received many complaints from residents about the Arshinkoffs’ sign.

Alex Arshinkoff contends the local regulation is a violation of his First Amendment right to free speech. Karen Arshinkoff contacted the ACLU about the case.

A political conservative, Alex Arshinkoff acknowledged that he doesn’t usually agree with the ACLU.

“They’re very liberal. I only agree with them 5 percent of the time,” he said.

The organization will send a representative to defend Karen Arshinkoff at a hearing set for Oct. 20 in Cuyahoga Falls Municipal Court, and it will seek to have Hudson’s sign restrictions struck down as a violation of the Arshinkoffs’ First Amendment rights, said Jeffrey Gamso, legal director for the ACLU of Ohio Foundation.