Businesses with liquor licenses can put up political signs on their property after the Liquor Control Commission agreed not to enforce and eventually rescind its rule barring such signs from licensed businesses.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan had filed suit in the U.S. District Court in Detroit against the policy after a bar owner in Washtenaw County, who had put up signs in front of the facility for U.S. Rep. John Dingell (D-Dearborn) and a local judicial candidate, became aware of the policy and took the signs down.
The ACLU said the policy, begun in 1954, violated the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and was inconsistent since signs about ballot proposals and social advocacy were still permissible.
Under the rule, violations were punishable by a fine of $300 up to losing the liquor license.
"With the election just two weeks away, we are pleased that the Liquor Control Commission has agreed to stop enforcing an archaic rule that violated the free speech rights of Michigan bar and restaurant owners for more than 50 years," said Michael Steinberg, ACLU of Michigan legal director, in a statement. "As of today, restaurant, bars and liquor store owners throughout the state are free to display election signs on their own property without fear of being fined or losing their liquor license."
Andrea Miller, spokesperson for the LCC, said the commission has determined the rule is obsolete, thus the reason to no longer enforce it and begin the process of rescinding it. She declined further comment since the matter remains under litigation.