NJ's Supreme Court to rule on rat protest

February 5, 2009 7:44:27 AM PST
New Jersey's Supreme Court is expected to decide Thursday whether a 10-foot inflatable rodent has rights. The pink-eyed giant rat is a ubiquitous sight at union protests around the state.

The case has pitted an International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union local against a central Jersey town.

Lawrence Township fined the union for using the rat in a 2005 protest, saying it violated an ordinance against balloons and other inflatable signs.

Lawyers for the union argued the law violates their right to free expression and suppresses protest.

The township claimed the union's use of the rat was a form of commercial speech, less deserving of First Amendment protections.

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Information from: The Star-Ledger, http://www.nj.com/starledger

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