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First Amendment Library:
Gerald P. Greiman


An ordinance in Ladue, Missouri, prohibited homeowners from displaying all signs on their property except residence identification signs, "for sale" signs, and signs warning of safety hazards. A homeowner displayed a letter-sized sign stating "For Peace in the Gulf" and challenged the constitutionality of the ordinance. The district and appellate courts held that the ordinance violated the First Amendment. While governments may regulate the physical characteristics of signs, they may not allow some signs and ban others based upon their content. Nor may governments ban all signs and foreclose an important form of communication. Metromedia v. San Diego, 453 U.S. 490 (1981).