• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • City Tells Tea Party Group "No Free Speech Here!"

    Four Corners Park in Coldwater, Mich., is home to Memorial Day festivities, bands in the summer, and monuments to those who have given the ultimate sacrifice to defend the American way of life. Now it’s also home to a blanket prohibition on the freedom of speech following a local Tea Party’s request to hang a banner announcing a rally last July.

    First Amendment, anyone?

    Here’s where the trouble began. The Tea Party group, known as the Common Sense Patriots of Branch County, informed the city that they were going to display a red, white and blue banner that simply stated, “Branch County Tea Party … July 31st … 1:00 pm” to announce its upcoming event.  City manager Jeffrey Budd rejected the request “because he considers the TEA Party to be too political and too controversial,” according to a lawsuit the organization filed against the city in U.S. District Court. The Patriots responded that the decision was an unconstitutional restriction on their right to free speech, the city relented, and the group could hang its sign. But it was only a temporary victory.

    At Budd’s recommendation, the city council enacted a blanket ban on ”banners or other signs of any type or description whatsoever.” And according to the Patriots’ complaint, Budd justified the ban by citing to “administrative headaches” and “comments about the banners affecting the natural beauty of the park” that the signs would provoke. But As the Patriots argue, such a ban would prohibit the display of any kind of sign, banner, or poster — even the American flag. The attorney who filed the suit, Robert Muise, told the Mackinac Center for Public Policy that the ban is too broad:

    Instead of using a scalpel, they used a sledgehammer,” Muise said. “They didn’t mind when they had people put up banners for some innocuous event, but when the tea party put up their sign, they said, ‘Wait a minute. This is too controversial.’ ”

    “There is a problem when you ban everything in a traditional public forum.”

    The city says its working on an amendment to its policy.

    Now it’s your turn. What do you think of the city’s ban on signs? Sound off in our comments section below.

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    88 Responses to City Tells Tea Party Group "No Free Speech Here!"

    1. Ian Bush, Ottawa, ON says:

      Madison warned you about the erosion of freedoms by unelected bureaucrats like this one. A man with no accountability and no real job. He's a public sector bureaucrat. He doesn't create anything of value, he doesn't provide a service of value, he just gets in the way.

    2. garett . Louisville, says:

      Communities all over the country are infringing on free speech, because, frankly, it is offensive to city managers. So let's see how this goes. Will Christmas and other seasonal banners be banned? Advertisements for the local veggie market? Will admonitions to VOTE! be banned? Posters announcing Fluffy's disappearence? Nope, just political messages that threaten the status quo.

    3. Greg Johnson says:

      My family has lived in Coldwater since the 1830's and this just cracks me up. As a former participant in local government I know this would not have happened when I lived there. Too many 'outsiders' taking over.

    4. Keith Forehand, Maco says:

      Back up Big Brother.

    5. Clarence Darrow says:

      Never, in the seven years our family lived in Coldwater, MI did I ever hear thoughts that would go against the 1st admendment rights of American citizens. Is the city council trying to rule like Obama?? The citizens of Coldwater may need a recall!!

    6. Soco Steve, RI says:

      It looks like our fore fathers traded one king 3000 miles away for 1000 kings, 3 miles away.

    7. West Texan says:

      Sounds like old Jeff is being too PC with the hypocrisy. Got a rhyme out of that one.

    8. RnNTexas, Texas says:

      It really should be amazing how the Freedom to Speak is to become a thing of the past under the current regime, and yet, only those opinions that challenge the regime seem to be the issue. If one were to stand on a soap box speaking FOR the current administration, the bureaucrats would applaud, and nail the signs up themselves. But if one dares speak up in opposition, the freedom to speak and assemble suddenly vanish.

      I hope that the citizens of this town will see through this thinly veiled attempt at quashing political discourse, and will hold the city to the fire about banners or signs of ANY kind, including and especially those of the Obama reelection campaign. It is only when a new breeze blows into the halls of the White House that some semblance of the Freedoms that this country was FOUNDED UPON will once again be returned to us.

      It isn't DC and the Democrats that gives our Freedom. It is our Constitution and God upon which our country was founded. They are not to be given, nor taken at a whim.

      God help us all.

    9. Bobbie says:

      Jeffery Budd: "the TEA Party to be too political and too controversial,”

      Freedom, Liberties and justice for all is too political? too controversial? It became political and controversial due to government threats and then acts of government removing them! FREEDOM OF SPEECH…but if you're honest and patriotic you're excluded. What an ugly country America has become, under dishonorable leadership.

    10. Redfray, Pea Ridge, says:

      Start the recall citizens of Coldwater, it will get the city councils' attention very quickly. Then have them to fire that Mr. Budd, who is not a true American.

    11. Eric, California says:

      I'm not sure the First Amendment says anything about free speech being limited by a lack of beauty or 'administrative headaches'.

      So if this can be covered under 'Freedom of Speech' I wonder what sort of argument they can really make against the banner.

    12. jack Reaster says:

      The Tea Party Patriots are coming for all you career politicians. Watch out GOP, your name is now mud.

    13. Frogguy, Utah says:

      As a former resident of Michigan, I find it hilarious that Michigan, of all places, is banning first amendment conservative speech. They would never even think of prohibiting liberals from assembling and speaking in Michigan! Do they not realize that Detroit has been the poster child city for failed liberal policies? Amazing.

    14. john thomas, medina, says:

      It's time for true Americans to stand up for America. Exercise your right to vote and get these liberals out before it's too late!

    15. florida says:

      i dont agree with all of the tea party's platform. but hello our first amendment guarentees this. i bet if the was pro obama party they wouldnt have a problem.

    16. florida says:

      i think that ban is unconstutional. and its politcally movitvated.

    17. vero beach,florida says:

      most unconstitutional.

    18. Carolyn Texas says:

      This is totally ridiculous! Stand your ground! Demand your rights!

    19. Beake - Illinois says:

      Just wait until they have a Muslim event, I bet they will be able to get an exception for that. Or a union rally, they will surely be able to get around it for them. MI. is just going to crap,(see Detroit and the state economy) wake up and get your people out to vote for American values and traditions.

    20. Bill Matlock, LaGran says:

      I suppose the communist organization ACLU will come to the aid of the Tea Party protesters and protect their rights as American citizens.

    21. Addison says:

      If Budd's job is an elected postion, try to get him recalled. Find someone to run who isn't anti-free speech. We take back our communities and then we take back the government.

    22. Donna Horsley, Beal says:

      Wise up, Budd. The Tea Party isn't a political party. It's a belief or movement far bigger than anyone has measured and getting bigger everyday partly because of actions like yours!

    23. Pingback: City Tells Tea Party Group “No Free Speech Here!”

    24. Mic Hudson says:

      No bastion of democracy here. Perhaps just a stronghold for Democrats?

    25. Derrick Farrell says:

      This is a disgusting outrage. Everyone on that city council who voted "yes", should be fired, recalled, thrown out of office. How dare you Coldwater!

    26. Tom - Frederick, MD says:

      Don't worry, folks. The ACLU will step in and assist by sueing for free spee…. Oh, wait. They only help LIBERAL causes. We're screwed!

    27. Kerry Nipp ,Westland says:

      file a lawsuit! that's unconstitutional! The City should be boycotted!

    28. George Washington says:

      “If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”

    29. Katrina Gordon, Idah says:

      So typical of fascist governments who can dish it out for their side of the coin but God forbid a group opposing their views making a stand. I hope the plaintiffs do not settle but demands a trial in this lawsuit. The city needs to be hammered for about half their annual budget so they will think twice about shredding the Constitution. BTW, where the heck is the ACLU? It seems as if this case ought to be right up their alley. I would hang a sign just to see what idiot cop comes forward to violate his oath to protect the Constitution. Lordy, people, a free and open environment will have political statements on display from all sorts of viewpoints. That's what our boys and girls in uniform ensure we continue to have. Perhaps an A-10 needs to visit the town council…….

    30. Troy, Yuma, AZ says:

      I would put together a referendum and let the people who live in the community make the decision because it would seem this "manager" can not. I would then try to find another City Manager with brain cells and a spine.

    31. Terry,Obx ,NC says:

      Mi. these days may as well be a third world country.But they will still cater to the liberal Unionized left that put them where they are today.They will continue to follow the lamb to the slaughter,never learning from their mistakes of the past.

    32. John Sulphur Springs says:

      HEY THAT IS JUST LIKE THOSE DAMN YANKEES . I HOPE THE TEA PARTY WINS THE SUIT . THE OFFICIALS OF PODUNK MICH. ARE PROBALY DEMOCRATS AND DONT HAVE ANY SENSE. I CANT REALLY SAY WHAT I FEEL CAUSE IT WOULD BE CENSORED.

    33. Larry Fleming Invern says:

      No doubt this 'bozo' is a progressive Dem with his hands around the throat of citizens for 'real change'.

    34. Larry Fleming Invern says:

      This is just one more instance of someone who has a little authority getting in the way of those he disagrees with

    35. Mark, Griffin GA says:

      Well, I see Coldwater has gone down hill since I left Michigan 11 years ago.

      Such a shame, I don't remember Coldwater being like this… but it takes only one or two asses in the right position to make a small city like Coldwater look bad.

    36. R. West says:

      I've attended a few there. They've always been very respectable and positive. As always, the general theme has been and is, smaller government, lower taxes, responsible stewardship, reverence to God.

      I'm glad to be part of it!

      If anything, the park has been left in better shape than when we arrived at the event.

    37. Jan Weber, MD Gladwy says:

      Coldwater….Coldwater…. The name rings a bell. Isn't that a quaint little suburb of Leningrad?

    38. Tim, Italy says:

      What are the words…”fundamental transformation”? Welcome to Amerika!

    39. Lady Liberty says:

      Oh Michigan, my Michigan…where have you gone and why have you strayed?

    40. Jay Umphres says:

      "administrative headaches" pretty weak excuse… unless he has to cater to the components of Sharia now embedded in his state… which makes it even weaker.

    41. Lady Liberty, Omaha says:

      The lawyer thinks the ban is too broad now. Does he think it fails by fooling all the people all the time?

      I suppose crony fascism should be better at picking its winners and losers.

    42. yockey jones grand j says:

      this is why my forfathers took to the seas and left oppresion/ suppresion!this is why england public has no guns! so there is realy only do what i say you can do!

      so brake out your spine and go whippim and votem out and punnish them with the news pappers and more pubic meeting and pray for them!

      THIS IS AMERICA AND YOU PUKES AND YOUR LIBRIAL CRAP WILL BE DEFETED AND SHOWN TO BE THE LITTLE WINNEY TAKERS YOU REALY ARE!

    43. Mia, Naples, FL says:

      What is going on in our country? Everything that is good and true is mocked and what is evil and unjust is prospering…..I don’t get it….the people better wake up or they don’t deserve freedom.

    44. Lowell Miller says:

      Why is it that every little burg and Podunk in the country has to try to change the constitution. This will not pass the litmus test as the courts have ruled time and time again. I believe the Center for Law and Justice with Jay Sekulow could put this to bed post haste.

    45. paul smith, saint louis, mi says:

      City managers are the bane of small town America. I’m from a small town in Northern Michigan and they fired the city manager there because he was on Facebook griping that he couldn’t live on his salary. 60k plus benefits in a town of 2500 people. What a rube!!!

    46. Lady Liberty says:

      The lawyer claims the problem is that the ban is too broad. Does it fail by trying to fool all the people?

      Crony fascism should know better how to pick its winners and losers.

    47. Pingback: City Tells Tea Party Group “No Free Speech Here!” | goldcountrypatriots

    48. James Cooke, Ireland says:

      How much federal money does this bankrupt burg in a bankrupt state suck away from productive America?

    49. lani, madras, oregon says:

      Isn't it strange how people feel the need to Ban, Legal Americans from Speaking or Gathering or Marching….But, People in Our Country Illegally do it all the time and we Do Nothing?! I don't get it….

    50. Phil - Westland, MI says:

      The city of Westland, MI, years ago enacted a sign ordinance to limit the size and position of a sign that a business could post. While denying businesses access to this inexpensive advertising, the city set out to add signs all over the city advertising different seasonal events, rummage sales, and of cousre their names (mayor, councilman) all of which were in direction violation of the ordinance they put into law. City governments is the best place to start fighting these problems, they generally have less resources and lesser talented "dictators."

    51. Mark, New York says:

      Sounds like a bunch of communistic have taken over the town. This must be stopped. Time to recall some elected officials.

    52. Eddina Symns, Hutchi says:

      TEA Party should really wipe out that

      city administration with a prolonged

      suit in court.

      OF course, city is against free speech.

      City should never have done what it

      did, and to use "administrative headaches"

      as an excuse! They wanted the city

      office; they got it; now take the headaches.

      With the Tea Party's receiving the privileges

      it should have is no reason for complaint.

      I begin to wonder what is in the air up in

      Michigan, Wisconsin, etc.

      Why are they so unconstitutional,

      far Left, and totally unreasonable?

    53. Patriot Diva, Easley says:

      So, are we now living in a totalitarian state???????

    54. Bruce - Cleveland says:

      I certainly don't agree with the ban but I can understand the initial response by a small town government. Most small towns are not educated on how to legally handle unusal requests for many activities. They often "wing it" based on someone's dominating opinion or their political view.. The suit filed is necessary and may wake up some of these small sleepy towns to get informed.

    55. wayne says:

      THATS WHY PEOPLE ARE LEAVING MICH!

    56. wayne says:

      That is another reason that people are leaving Michigan.

    57. Janet, Salisbury, MD says:

      Perhaps the Tea Party should get the Westboro Baptist Church to hold their banners for them. They have free speech.

    58. Paul L. Thompson says:

      If I lived in that small town in Mi, I would be in jail today. You take away my free speech, you take my fist to the mouth at he same time!

    59. Donald C. Patterson says:

      Recall the whole group and reiterate that those who flagrantley dissregard the Constitution shall be removed for cause.

    60. Donald C. Patterson says:

      RECALL THE ENTIRE COUNCEL AND REMOVE THE CITY MANAGER FOR CAUSE. iT IS NOT A DIFFICULTL TASK. THE GROUNDS HAVE BEEN STATED BY THE DEFENDANTS.

    61. Lew Richards Palm Ba says:

      This action by the government officials in Coldwater, Michigan is not only Stupid, it is unamerican and reeks of democrat party lefttist.

      Our Servicemen died and took casualities over many years defending us against Foreign Tyrants. Here, we now have despots in Coldwater . Michigan deciding whom can speak or demonstrate in a City Park based purely on their political feelings!! What has America become? It sounds like Hitler and Obama have joined forces!! WAKE UP!! America

    62. R Holland, Chandler, says:

      What part of the Tea Party platform can't anyone disagree with?

      1. Fiscal responsibility.

      2. Constitutionally limited government.

      3. Free markets.

      What part is so bad?

    63. Pete, Houston Texas says:

      I am sure that amount of media attention given to this action by the city actions will result in a higher turn out then if they had just put up the sign. The actions of an over empowered government employee just helped the Tea Party in their quest for freedom of speech and peacefull assembly.

    64. Andy, Colorado says:

      I seem to remember my high school constitution class, something about two types of speech that are always protected. Oh yes, that's right, political speech and religions speech.

      But, then again, that was way back when students were required to learn things like The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution of the United States of America, The Bill of Rights, The Federalist Papers, and Common Sense.

      Perhaps if our young citizens to be were kept in mind of what these documents today, such petty potentates would be more cautious about taking unlawful and unconstitutional actions.

    65. Jerry Kearns, Maine says:

      Liberals working OVERTME!

    66. Emily of Texas says:

      What gets to me is when the proud illegal aliens march down our largest city main streets carrying the Mexican flag…all is OK with this government, unless the legal citizens stand up for our Constitution…A huge problem, folks.

    67. Timothy Schiel, FT. says:

      Hit 'em where it hurts – their wallets. I've been stopping in this town for 30 years during my travels. NO MORE!

    68. T Fisher says:

      Clearly the city manager's politics are not the politics of the tea party. Once again in we are in a standoff with a progressive, megalomaniac that tolerates freedom only of speech approved by him. Expect to see him recieve the "Medal of Freedom" presented by "The Prez."commonly referred to by Obama as the "Congressional Metal of Honor" at a special 4th of July celebration at the Lincoln Memorial hosted by SEIU with the most right Rev. Alvin Theodore Sharpton as MC. Later that day at the same celebration Obama plans to petition Congress to make Washington DC the 58th state. To quote Joe Biden "This Budd's for you"!

    69. Pat Regan, Louisiana says:

      This action on the part of the town manager and Council is reminiscent of Hitler's Brown shirts managing the message as Hitler took control of Germany. This action by bureaucratic sycophants tells me that they are deathly afraid of losing control and is further reason for the Tea Party to prevail. There is no question that the liberals in Michigan are running scared. Its time to take back our governments and stop the slide to socialism and control of every facet of our life. Good luck to the Tea Party..

    70. Dave, California says:

      Will they never learn? The facts of this case sound like a not-very-challenging law school exam question. There are so many cases similar to this where more artfully crafted and deceptive statutes have been found to be unconstitutional that one has to question the motives of these city officials. Either their city attorney is laughably inept, they fail to seek the attorney's counsel, or even more troubling…they intentionally ignore the law, effectively chilling speech by forcing plaintiffs to incur the time and costs of litigation. Whichever it is, it is another indication of the fascistic tactics employed by the hard Left to stifle opposing views. Can revolution be far behind?

    71. Carol, Boston says:

      Not as Tea Party members – but as AMERICANS – this should frighten us all! As Conservatives -we need to fight back! The Left always sues for any "slight" – even ones that don't exist! NO MORE COMPROMISE! If we don't stand on principles and fight back loudly and clearly – this country will continue to be destroyed and turned into a nanny state. The Left is always claiming "bullying" or hate speech by our side – WHAT A JOKE! They invented it! The reason they recognize it is because they invented it and perfected it! Rise up against any and all who support this Socialist agenda before it is too late!

    72. Leon Lundquist, Dura says:

      Mike! They do that all the time! Progressive Socialists don't want Free Speech! They want tunas that taste good!

    73. Diane Winston - Virg says:

      Typical of cowardly officials. Where are the courageous patriots like those who fought for freedom of speech in 1776?? Are there none left in governments, local and national?

    74. Joan of Snark says:

      It isn't fondly referred to as Michiganistan for nothing. Despite the sea change from blue to red last November the progressive entitlement know-better mentality isn't limited to Detroit and the state universities; it's pervasive due to the great numbers who have been raised on the teat of unions. So this coming from a city employee should be no surprise to anyone.

    75. Robert Bay City says:

      We now know what The President is trying to sell. We dont buy it. We now know what the city of Coldwater wants to control. We wont take that either. Yes it is a headache and yes it would be less cluttered if all those signs didnt have to be there, BUT why take rights of citizens away? He who has the power makes the rules.. in our country its power to the PEOPLE. Kings or dictators dont even go there/

    76. Marg Boyer says:

      I think this town has a liberal, union, city fathers problem that needs to be bombbarded with a well rounded group of towns people at their next city council meeting. Let the people display their 1st ammendment rights to the council and see where it leads. MABoyer

    77. Frank Grundman says:

      I feel badly for a dear friend of over 45 years who now lives in Coldwater, Michigan who is being denied the right to hear the Tea Party message by a partisan local government bent on the unconstitutional control of the right to exercise First Amendment rights. There is a reason why the rights expressed in the First Amendment of the United States Constitution where placed at the beginning of the First Ten Amendments.

    78. Corky, Howey in the says:

      OK, next will be kids going to prison for TPing a house on Graduation Day. Or maybe a ticket for going 1/10th of a mile an hour over the speed limit. I'm trying to say our Beautiful Country is being over run by special interest and idiots like the one in this article. If We the People do not stand up and shake our fists we will fall to socialism….God Help Us ALL….. (MY Opinion)

    79. Tsum says:

      Very interesting. Sounds like the politicians don't wantanyone with any opposition to their agenda speaking out.

      So,just like in school… Eveyone punished because one acted bad? Well that is the fsecond thing that came to mind.

      The next thing that comes to mind is "no banners or signs". Now my question is in referance to the quote ”banners or other signs of any type or description whatsoever.” No street, hospital, traffic, police department, fire department, or the all mighty WalMart signs?

      Some people are so ignorant and have such an ego for power it is rediculous.

    80. Mike, Wichita Falls says:

      Government at all levels think they can do such things to the Tea Party because there is no fear of physical violence and destruction from the Tea Party as there would be, and has been, from union leaders and Islamofacists. The Tea Party philosophy is peaceful change at the ballot box not radical change with violence.

    81. Jim Lunde - Lindstro says:

      I guess we need a guy like Donald Trump more than we know. He is not a politician and there inlies the solution to our countrys problems……Lawyers!

      Get lawyers out of politics and government and let "Common Sense" prevail!

      40 years ago this would not even have been a blip on the radar screen. Where do these idiots come from?

    82. Mac, Meridian ID says:

      Another example of the upcoming furor over the direction of our country. There was a time a City Manager, Mayor, Council would have welcomed this type display, a celebration of our 1st Amendment protected right. We have now denigrated our civil liberties to that of children asking a parent permission for a piece of candy. It is supposed be the other way around, government coming to us for permission to have a treat which we only give for as a just reward for best behaviors.

    83. Robert, Lavonia Ga says:

      Just the reason any position funded with TAX dollars is a contract job with a maximum of 12 years and then you must enter the private sector for a minimum of 24 month before being eligible for rehire in a different government position. And, the maximum salary for any tax funded position would be at the median level for private sector salaries in the are served. Too many bureaucrats that have the audacity of power.

    84. Perry,Oklahoma says:

      sounds a lot like a personal problem with the city managers office. Another BLOATED dem with a liberal waste band.

    85. Huck Finn says:

      Just more government help. We citizens cannot be trusted to think for ourselves, we have to be 'guided' by the intellectual eliets of the world.

      I truly beg to differ with you. Go ahead and put up the signs and have the city dare to take them down. Take back the town, folks, take back the town!

      I don't think the citizens have done much of their homework. Go back and read Tocqueville, or Jefferson, and then make a decision as to whether the action of the city officials are misguided. It think you will find a valid argument to hang the signs, and blast the city in court.

    86. Harry Snyder Tempera says:

      I am disgusted, as a citizen of Michigan, to read that the city politicians have put a ban on free speech in Coldwater, MI. This may be a "foot in the door" for other would-be censors to invent limits on free speech in other places.

      I believe there were few similar limits during the 1960's; there is not reason to believe censorship should be enacted now.

      I hope the people of Coldwater will support the Tea party folks. I am a supporter of Tea Parties, and I have family in the area, but I would say the same things if it were Podunk.

    87. DEBBIE GOZDOR ALASKA says:

      My husband, our children and myself were born and raised in Michigan. We moved to the beautiful state of Alaska in 1992, most all of our families still live in Michigan. It really sadden my husband and I to see how bad the economy in Michigan was the last time we visited. The state has become to liberal, politicially correct and etc. The past Governor you had destroyed your state for years to come. I am hopeful that with a new Governor in there he can and will turn things around. I can only guess that the driving force behind this fight against the tea party is a liberal cause. It will only change when the people who value their freedoms in this GREAT NATION of ours stand together and say enough is enough. We are losing our rights one by one and alot of people will not realize it until it is to late. Remember all the young men and women who sacraficed their lives through history so we could have our freedoms. People need to rise up against this free speech issue before it is too late,

    88. Larry Calhoun says:

      If the United Auto Workers had wanted to put up a "workers of the world unite" banner that he would not had a problem with that.

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.

    ×