Candidate takes town to court over lawn signs

    Richard Orloski, a Democratic candidate for Pennsylvania Senate, is taking South Whitehall Township to court over an ordinance that restricts lawn signs. Orloski claims the town’s permit rules restrict free speech.

    With just six weeks to go until the November general election, one Pennsylvania state Senate candidate is battling not just for votes, but for the right to put out lawn signs.

    Richard Orloski, a Democratic candidate for state Senate from Allentown, has filed a federal lawsuit against South Whitehall Township, after the candidate received a letter informing him that he needed to get a permit to put his signs around town, or risk a fine. In South Whitehall, even residents have to get a permit before planting a sign on the front lawn.

    “We are talking about your garden variety lawn signs,” says Lawrence Otter, an attorney who represents Orloski. “This is a pure unconstitutional ordinance based on the first amendment rights of free political speech in the United States. This ordinance restricts the size of your sign, restricts the location, requires you to get a permit, requires you to pay a fee for the permit.”

    The township did not return calls for comment.

    Sean Scully, of the government watchdog group The Committee of Seventy, says in Philadelphia it’s against the law for candidates to put signs on city-owned property like street lights, but there’s no regulation if someone wants to stick a sign in their own lawn.

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