Looking for a good deal on a used car? Don’t bother wandering the streets in Alexandria, Virginia. Because of a local law, it’s illegal for residents to post “For Sale” signs on their cars. Resident Scott McLean wants to change that.
Two years ago, he picked up a $40 parking ticket when he tried to sell a car by placing a sign in the window. Now he’s trying to unload another vehicle, and the Pacific Legal Foundation wants to help him advertise it. The group has filed a federal lawsuit challenging Alexandria’s law.
The problem stems from the fact that the Supreme Court applies a different standard to commercial speech than it does to other sorts of speech. But as PLF notes, all types of speech benefit Americans. “The government shouldn’t be able to pick and choose what people can say,” PLF’s Christina Martin says. “When the government erects barriers to commercial speech, it makes that information more difficult to get, which can raise prices, hurting both the advertiser and the consumer.”
McLean says he knew two years ago that Alexandria was violating his First Amendment rights. That’s why he decided to file the suit. “It’s just as important for people like me to be able to express an idea that’s in our economic self-interest as it is to be able to express something that’s in our political self-interest,” he told PLF.
Unless the law, written in 1963, is overturned, McLean won’t be parking his truck with a For Sale sign on it. Oddly, though, it would be legal for him to display the sign while he’s driving the vehicle. So chase him down if you need a truck.