Reconciling Speech and Structural Elements in Sign Regulation

Darrel C. Menthe


Signs are both physical structures and speech acts. Consequently, sign regulation is simultaneously the regulation of land use and speech. This dual character has hindered the development of a coherent constitutional regime for sign regulation because the jurisprudential tendencies of these two areas of law pull in opposite directions. In disputes over zoning and land use regulation, courts commonly favor broad applications of police power, fearing that overeager "takings" jurisprudence might turn every adverse decision into a constitutional deprivation. For regulations concerning speech, however, an additional liberty interest is at stake: the fundamental right of free speech protected by the First Amendment and parallel state constitutional provisions. Decisions concerning speech regulation are generally permissive of speech and hostile to the exercise of police power.

Full Text:


Comments on this article

View all comments