Mary M. Popper


free speech, first amendment, commercial speech


This case note examines the United States Third Circuit Court of Appeals' decision in Linmark Associates, Inc. v. Township of Willingboro, 535 F.2d 786 (3d Cir.), cert. granted, 97 S. Ct. 351 (1976), upholding the constitutionality of an ordinance prohibiting the display of "for sale" and "sold" signs on residential property. The Third Circuit held that the signs were primarily commercial speech and since neither message contained comment on social policy, political protest, or similar elements of pure speech, the governmental interests forwarded by the ordinance sufficiently outweighed any infringement on first amendment rights. The case note finds that in Linmark, the two goals of the courts and statutes have come into conflict: (1) that no person should be denied the opportunity to buy a particular house because of his or her race; and (2) that a community should be populated by all racial and ethnic groups represented in its area. The case note concludes that there has been no legislative or judicial determination on the constitutionality of community attempts to compromise between the aims of open housing and integration and suggests that if Linmark does not survive the Supreme Court's latest construction of first amendment protection of commercial speech, then the important question of the legitimacy of racial balancing as a legitimate legislative goal will remain unanswered.



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