A Hawthorne man and Ron Paul supporter is fighting theborough after he said local code enforcement officers told him to remove two Ron Paul for president signs from his lawn.
Andrew Gause said a few days after the Feb. 5 primary, officials visited his residence and cited a municipal ordinance outlawing the display of political signs more than seven days after an election.
Threatened with fines if he did not immediately remove the offending display, Gause said he was determined to defend his Constitutional rights, and refused.
On Feb. 26, the borough issued a citation, and under what he calls state intimidation, Gause removed the signs in question.
But he insists the case is not over.
“Having reviewed the Borough of Hawthorne’s municipal codes, I find them replete with Constitutional infringements,” said the property owner. “This mayor and council have usurped the property rights of Hawthorne’s homeowners and reduced us to the state of tenants on our own property. They have become the de facto landlords, and the sole arbiters of political speech. This is merely the most glaring example – I intend to address others.”
Hawthorne Borough Mayor Patrick J. Botbyl and Hawthorne Borough Administrator Eric Maurer did not return calls for comment.
Gause’s attorney Kenneth Del Vecchio said of the ordinance in question, “It is especially disturbing in light of Boehm v. Borough of Franklin Lakes, a 2001 case with identical facts—from the very next town. The United States District Court enjoined Franklin Lakes from enforcing its ordinance; finding that it subjected political signs to stricter regulations than commercial signs, and that Franklin Lakes provided no interest for this disparity that would pass Constitutional scrutiny.”