U.S. court rules against posting signs on Philadelphia poles

A federal court has ruled that politicians cannot put signs on poles in Philadelphia.

However, the ruling might not be the end of the fight.

The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a 2005 city ordinance that prohibits posting any sign, political or otherwise, on city-owned poles. The aim is to stop driver distractions. Attorney Lawrence Otter, representing Councilman-elect Kenyatta Johnson and failed council candidate Damon Roberts, says the ban is unfair.

“They threw pure political speech out with the bathwater because they were aiming at circus posters and insurance ads and used car ads, whatever else goes up on poles in Philadelphia,” Otter said.

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Otter said the problem with removing the signs from poles is that, in some neighborhoods, there is no other place to put political advertising.

“If you are up in the great Northeast or Chestnut Hill, you have a front lawn you can stick a yard sign on,” he said. “So you probably don’t see pole signs up there but when you are in Grays Ferry or Southwest Philadelphia, there is no place to put yard signs out. The only place you can put it is on a pole.”

There’s been no decision yet on whether to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court.

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