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Man battles landlord over political sign

"Should renters have the same rights as homeowners when it comes to participating in the political process?Federal Way resident Chris Diedrich thinks so. So does the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington.Diedrich was given 10 days to remove a small Bush-for-president sign from the window of his Woodtrail Village apartment on Oct. 26. If he does not comply, he'll face eviction proceedings, according to KIRO radio.Instead of removing the sign, the Federal Way man has taken his case to television, radio and print media as well as the ACLU.Managers at Woodtrail Village did not return calls from the Mirror on Tuesday.Though the ACLU agrees with Diedrich in principle, its legal department still is investigating the case and has not determined what, if any, legal backing the organization will offer to Diedrich, said spokesman Doug Honig.The ACLU does believe renters have the right to place political signs in their windows, Honig said, likening it to the right of homeowners to place political signs in their yards. Restricting a renter's rights would mean a two-tiered system that would be unequal, he said.The right to express political views is one of the most basic rights we have, he said.The government, through the municipal court system, should not enforce such a restriction on speech, he said. The eviction process includes a court hearing.However, there is no legal precedent that Honig is aware of for this specific issue, he said.In lieu of an outright ban on political signs, Honig said landlords should have the right to set reasonable limitations on them, such as size. Landlords also should have the right to protect their interests by barring business signs from tenants' windows, he said. "

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