Elderly NJ woman faces eviction for hanging American flags

Melissa Quinn Contributor
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An elderly woman in New Jersey faces eviction for refusing to remove American flags from her balcony.

Dawn Paulus of Phillipsburg, New Jersey, has three small American flags on the balcony of her apartment, and was ordered to take them down.

The Phillipsburg Housing Authority told Paulus that hanging the flags is a violation of her lease.

Paulus, 75, left the flags up anyway, Fox News Radio reports, and she has no intention of complying.

Residents of the apartment complex are not officially permitted to hang anything from balconies, but tenants frequently hang laundry.

An official from the housing authority told Paulus that her American flags must be removed “because of the Nazi flags,” she told Fox News Radio. “If I hung the American flag up and someone hung a Nazi flag up they couldn’t tell them to take the Nazi flag down and still let me fly the American flag.”

Paul Rummerfield, executive director at the Phillipsburg Housing Authority, told Fox that under the Fair Housing Act, the housing authority cannot discriminate against any particular kind of flag.

Rummerfield also said that the flags were a safety concern. Paulus lives on the sixth floor, allegedly generating concern that the flags may fall.

Brad Jacob, a constitutional law expert at Regent University, said that the housing authority’s demand is a violation of the First Amendment.

“Their justification is we must ban all because some of it will offend,” Jacob said. “Traditionally, that’s a losing argument. Traditionally, free speech wins out. And if someone is offended at another person’s speech, they’re just offended.”

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