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SACKS v. PRICE (05/21/68)

decided: May 21, 1968.

SACKS, APPELLANT,
v.
PRICE



Appeal from decree of Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County, No. 67-14014, in case of Lee B. Sacks v. James L. Price and Commissioners of Cheltenham Township.

COUNSEL

Lee B. Sacks, appellant, in propria persona.

Samuel H. High, Jr., with him High, Swartz, Roberts & Seidel, for appellees.

Bell, C. J., Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'Brien and Roberts, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Musmanno. Mr. Justice Cohen, Mr. Justice Eagen, Mr. Justice O'Brien and Mr. Justice Roberts concur in the result.

Author: Musmanno

[ 430 Pa. Page 127]

James L. Price, Director of Public Safety in Cheltenham Township, prepared and had distributed, at the expense of the township, a brochure entitled A Message

[ 430 Pa. Page 128]

    to School Children and Their Parents in Cheltenham Township From Your Police Department. The printing bill amounted to $174.

The brochure was particularly addressed to children and began "Your parents, your teachers, and the Cheltenham Township Police Department wish to keep you safe and happy. Always remember that your Police Officer is your friend. Always report or ask someone to report to a Police Officer or the Cheltenham Township Police Department at TU 7-6200, the following: 1. Any stranger who tries to join you in play. 2. Any stranger who asks you to go with him. . . ." There followed seven other admonitions, all directed to warning children against disturbers. The telephone number of the Police Department was conspicuously displayed on the publication.

Scarcely a week passes that the news media do not contain a distressing account of some child having been abducted, maltreated, or abused in some fashion by unknown individuals. The best way to reduce the perpetration of these hideous offenses is to educate the children not to allow themselves to be placed in a position of danger.

Lee B. Sacks, a taxpayer of Cheltenham Township, saw this educational pamphlet in a different light. He perceived in it political propaganda to advance the candidacy of James L. Price seeking election to the office of township commissioner. Mr. Price's name and picture appeared on the cover of the pamphlet, but it contained no reference to his political aspirations.

Sacks brought an action in equity against Price and the other commissioners of Cheltenham Township, asking that the commissioners be restrained from paying for the literature or to be surcharged for such payment and that the election of Price as ...


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