The opinion of the court was delivered by: JAMES KNOLL GARDNER, District Judge
This matter is before the Court on the Motion for Preliminary
Injunction filed February 17, 2004 on behalf of plaintiffs.*fn1 By Order
of the undersigned dated March 2, 2004 we scheduled a hearing on plaintiffs' motion for preliminary injunction.
A hearing on plaintiffs' motion was conducted before the undersigned on
March 8, 2004.
By Order of the undersigned dated March 8, 2004 we granted plaintiffs'
Motion for Preliminary Injunction against defendant Township of
Palmer.*fn2 For the reasons expressed below, we deny plaintiffs' Motion for Preliminary Injunction in all
Jurisdiction is based upon federal question jurisdiction pursuant to
28 U.S.C. ___ 1331. Supplemental jurisdiction is proper over plaintiffs'
state law claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ___ 1367(a). Venue is appropriate
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ___ 1391(b)(1), (b)(2) and (c) because the events
giving rise to plaintiffs' claims allegedly occurred in this judicial
district, namely, Northampton County, Pennsylvania.
Plaintiffs are the Northampton County Democratic Party ("Party") and
Joe Long. Plaintiff Party brings this suit "Individually and on behalf of
all its candidates for public office and the citizen electors of
Northampton County". Plaintiff Joe Long brings this suit "individually
and as Chairman of the Northampton County Democratic Party".
Plaintiffs filed their Complaint in this court on February 17, 2004.
The Complaint alleges that one city, ten townships and eight boroughs in
Northampton County, Pennsylvania*fn3 have political sign ordinances which plaintiffs
allege directly effect them. Plaintiffs also allege that these ordinances
interfere with plaintiffs' rights to free speech under the First
Amendment of the United States Constitution, as made applicable to the
states under the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution,
and under the First Amendment of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of
Specifically, plaintiffs allege that the various political sign
ordinances infringe their rights to conduct political campaigns for
various public offices using political yard signs on private property and the public right-of-way. More
specifically, plaintiffs allege that the various ordinances require:
(a) permits and/or licenses;
(b) fees and/or deposits;
(c) pre-election time limits for posting signs;
(d) post-election time limits for removing signs;
(e) size limitations on signs;
(f) numerosity limitations on signs per residential
(g) numerosity limitations on off-premises signs;
(h) bans on posting signs within the public
Plaintiffs contend that they are actively involved in every election
within the 19 local municipalities in Northampton County by nominating
and campaigning for the candidates for various public offices. The public
offices on the ballot this election year include President of the United
States, a United States Senator, a United States Congressman and various
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania offices including Attorney General,
Treasurer and Auditor General.
Plaintiff Party and its candidates allege that they customarily
purchase political signs for public display. The signs are then distributed throughout
Northampton County and within the 19 defendant municipalities to enable
the candidates and their supporters to post the signs in a public forum
so that the signs can be read by other citizen electors on private
property (including residential property) within sight of a public road,
locations along public roads, and in the rights-of-way of public roads.
Plaintiffs further contend that there is no other reasonable, effective
or affordable alternative to political signs in conducting a campaign for
public office within the defendant municipalities. Finally, plaintiffs
assert that defendants' various political sign ordinances are
unconstitutional; and that the ordinances will disrupt free and fair
elections in 2004 and beyond by threatening governmental action against
plaintiffs, its candidates and supporters, and the citizens of the
On February 17, 2004 plaintiffs filed their Complaint together with a
Motion for Preliminary Injunction against the various municipalities. On
February 18, 2004 plaintiffs served all defendants except defendant
Roseto Borough with the Complaint and Motion for Preliminary Injunction.
On February 19, 2004 plaintiffs served defendant Roseto Borough.
On March 2, 2004 plaintiffs' Notice of Voluntary Dismissal of defendant
Township of Bethlehem was filed. Moreover, by Order dated March 2, 2004,
we scheduled plaintiffs' Motion for Preliminary Injunction for hearing on
March 8, 2004.
On March 8, 2004 plaintiffs filed a Notice of Voluntary Dismissal
regarding defendants Borough of Glendon, Borough of Hellertown, Borough
of North Catasauqua, Borough of Walnutport, City of Easton, Lehigh
Township, Plainfield Township, Allen Township and the Borough of Bath. In
addition, as noted above, by separate Order dated March 8, 2004, by
agreement of counsel, we dismissed defendant Williams Township from this
Thus, at the commencement of the March 8, 2000 hearing on plaintiffs'
Motion for Preliminary Injunction the only parties which remained were
Roseto Borough, Washington Township, the Borough of Bangor, Bushkill
Township, East Allen Township, the Borough of Nazareth and the Township
Based upon the pleadings, record papers, exhibits, stipulations of
counsel and the evidence presented at the hearing held March 8, 2004, the
pertinent facts are as follows.
Plaintiff Joseph Long is the Chairman of the Northampton County
Democratic Party. Furthermore, Mr. Long is on the April 27, 2004 primary
election ballot as a delegate for United States presidential candidate
John Kerry in the 15th Congressional District. The 15th Congressional
District is comprised of all of Lehigh County and Northampton County,
Pennsylvania, and portions of Montgomery County and Berks County,
Pennsylvania. Mr. Long is authorized to bring this action by the members
of the Northampton County Democratic Committee.
Mr. Long has a long history of participation in political campaigns
beginning in the early 1960's through the present, volunteering his time
to local, state and federal candidates. Through the years, Mr. Long has
participated in setting up phone banks, putting up political signs,
operating "get-out-the-vote" campaigns and coordinating radio and
television advertising on behalf of various political candidates.
Plaintiff Northampton County Democratic Party is a political party as
defined by Pennsylvania law.*fn4 The Party will endorse a slate of candidates in the 2004 election cycle, including
the primary and general elections for various local, state and federal
Political signs are used by almost every candidate for political office
at the local, state and federal level as a means of obtaining name
recognition for the particular candidate. Political signs are an
effective and more economically viable means for many candidates to get
their names, and sometimes a message, out to potential voters. Moreover,
political signs are less costly than other traditional methods of
advertising such as radio, television and print media.
Political signs are dropped off by candidates for public office with
the local party committees and distributed to committee members and to
the individual supporters of particular candidates. The signs are placed
in the yards of committee members, campaign supporters, and along the
rights-of-way of public streets and thoroughfares.
Each defendant municipality has political-sign ordinances that attempt
to restrict different aspects of placing political signs within the
municipality. We address the particular ordinances in each specific
municipality as follows. Roseto Borough
The Borough of Roseto is a bedroom community of approximately 1400
residents, just over a square mile in size, located north of the Borough
of Bangor, along Blue Mountain, in what is referred as the slate-belt
region of Northampton County, Pennsylvania.
Section 185-34 of the Roseto Code restricts the use of political signs
by establishing a three-week pre-election time restriction for displaying
political signs, and a ten-day post-election deadline for removal of
political signs. In addition, the ordinance limits the size of any
political sign to a maximum of six square feet. An individual may place
only one sign per candidate on his or her property. There is a fee for
displaying signs which exceed the limitations of the ordinance, but that
fee is waived for political signs. No permit is required to post a
Roseto Borough has never enforced its political sign ordinance except
where the placement of a particular sign has created a safety hazard.
However, Roseto Borough has not specifically agreed to ...