Advertising Inflatables – A First Amendment Right?

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I’m always talking about inflatables as a means of having fun – i.e. bounce houses, jumper combos, inflatable yacht slides, etc. These are all viable means of using inflatables, but there is also another type of inflatable that is incredibly useful for business owners – advertising inflatables. You’ve seen them before – my guess is that you have seen those crazy air dancers bouncing about in the wind in front of a store that recently opened in your area. We all enjoy these types of displays…well, most of us anyway.

There is a lawsuit about advertising inflatables currently on appeal that is making its way through the Medina Township in Ohio, according to the Medina Sun. The township has a ban in place for inflatables being displayed on buildings for any reason. Two businessmen filed a lawsuit after being slapped with fines for displaying such an inflatable:

“Bill Doraty and Dave Scherba, who claimed in a lawsuit that the township zoning code’s ban on inflatables was unconstitutional, say they plan to appeal judge Donald Nugent’s decision last week in favor of the township…the dealership was cited for displaying the inflatables on the dealership’s roof. Doraty and Scherba were seeking an undisclosed amount of damages for the citations as well as legal fees and revisions in the zoning code, which they said was unconstitutionally vague. They claimed it violated their rights to freedom of speech, due process and equal protection under the first, fifth and fourteenth amendments.”

The major reasoning for the township’s law against inflatables is due to three specific points, according to the article: safety concerns, driver distraction and the permission for sexually explicit storefronts to display prurient inflatables. The township’s representation remains steadfast against the lawsuit enacted by Doraty and Scherba, regardless of any boost to either’s business.

Do you think that advertising inflatables should be protected by first amendment rights?