New Jersey's top court rules township can't ban protest rat

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New Jersey's top court rules township can't ban protest rat

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New Jersey top court has ruled that even an inflatable three-metre rat has  free speech rights.

The case pitted an International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union local against Lawrence Township in  central New Jersey.

The super-sized rat, sitting on its hind legs and bearing fangs, is a national symbol used by organized labour to signal a labour dispute.

It had been blown up and displayed at a 2005 labour event in the township until police enforced a law that bans banners, streamers and inflatable signs, except those announcing grand openings.

A labour official was fined $100 plus $33 court costs.

But the state supreme court ruled unanimously Thursday that the rodent is protected speech under the U.S. First Amendment.

Waterloo Record