A decision by a U.S. appeals court could give the Philadelphia police union increased political clout.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit ruled Monday that the city’s ban on political contributions by police violates the First Amendment. Other city employees including firefighters, who successfully challenged a similar ban, are allowed to make contributions.
Thomas Jennings, a lawyer for the Fraternal Order of Police, said the ruling will give the union’s political action committee viability.
“It will give them a meaningful voice,” said Jennings. “For good, bad or otherwise, that seems to be an essential ingredient to have a voice at the table … is to have a meaningful PAC. And they will finally have one as, I would point out, the non-uniformed employees have had for decades and the firefighters have had now for five years.”
Philadelphia’s ban was written into the city charter more than 60 years ago in an attempt to fight police corruption. The city government has argued that the rule is still necessary to keep police clear of political dealings.
Mark McDonald, a spokesman for Mayor Michael Nutter’s administration, said it is reviewing the case. There is no word yet on whether it will appeal.