Mass. AG: Middleborugh Should Repeal No-Swearing Law

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Middleborough Police station

Middleborough Police station

BOSTON (AP) — Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office is recommending that the town of Middleborough change or repeal a bylaw prohibiting public profanity.

Town Meeting voted in June to approve a proposal that would allow police to enforce the 1968 bylaw by imposing a $20 fine on people who engage in loud swearing in public.

In the ruling issued on Tuesday, Coakley said the enforcement mechanism does not — by itself — violate any state or federal laws. But the attorney general said the underlying bylaw would appear to violate First Amendment free speech guarantees, and she called on Middleborough to take it off the books or amend it.

The measure passed in June came in response to concerns by local merchants about profanity-laden language used by teens and other young people in the downtown area and public parks.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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