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ACLU of Delaware's Milton free speech case comes to a close

Delaware Public Media

Last summer, the ACLU of Delaware filed a lawsuit against the town of Milton. That suit has been settled.

At the core of the lawsuit was a free speech argument: more specifically, the freedom of those like Milton resident Penny Nickerson to display political yard signs on her front lawn. Last year, Nickerson was approached by a city official who told her that the signs violated town code. That led to a lawsuit.


The ACLU of Delaware’s legal director Richard Morse says there was some back and forth about wording in the town’s updated ordinance. Over the summer, they added another provision that Morse says was unconstitutional.


“The provision they added was that no sign could be within one foot of the sidewalk. And in Milton – with very small lots and bushes and so on the lot - if you had an across the board one foot rule, two of Ms. Nickerson’s four signs would not be visible to cars driving by," Morse said.


Morse says that’s since been changed, and a settlement was reached last week.  


“If Milton had not corrected the ordinance, we would have been doing a lot of legal work between now and then to get ready for a trial in June," he said.


Milton’s new town code now specifies that four temporary signs – regardless of content – can be displayed in any one lot at any time.


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