University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Pledge of Resistance v. We the People, Inc. PN-PA-0009
Docket / Court CA-87- 3975 ( E.D. Pa. )
State/Territory Pennsylvania
Case Type(s) Policing
Case Summary
In the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, several activist groups and individuals filed a complaint in 1987 claiming that their First Amendment rights had been and were likely to continue to be violated by the defendants. The defendants consisted of a corporation active ... read more >
In the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, several activist groups and individuals filed a complaint in 1987 claiming that their First Amendment rights had been and were likely to continue to be violated by the defendants. The defendants consisted of a corporation active in providing ceremonies commemorating the bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution, the National Park Service and its personnel, the City of Philadelphia and various Philadelphia police officers, and an FBI official. We do not have a copy of the complaint, but an available document shows that the plaintiffs moved for a preliminary injunction. An evidentiary hearing on that application occurred on July 8, 1987, before District Judge John P. Fullam, who heard oral argument on the motion the next day.

On July 10, 1987, Judge Fullam issued a preliminary injunction, albeit slightly less sweeping than the plaintiffs had sought. First, the judge denied the request to enjoin the corporate and FBI defendants, and refused to enjoin the police from surveillance activities, since the evidence adduced at the hearing did not show clear violations of rights or a substantial likelihood of further constitutional violations attributable to these defendants. Based, however, on evidence showing efforts to exclude dissenting or controversial opinions from being expressed at bicentennial activities, the remaining defendants were enjoined from denying plaintiffs or others permission to lawfully distribute leaflets or printed matter, or to wear, display, or carry signs, placards or insignia, by reason of the message contained, in areas open to the public including Independence National Historical Park, so long as the activities did not breach the peace or interfere with similar activity by others or with public events in progress. Judge Fullam's injunction contained a proviso that it not be interpreted to prevent the defendants from properly performing their duties to ensure safety and security, enforce federal and state laws, and bar unreasonable interference and disruption of bicentennial events and ceremonies.

We do not have additional documents from this case, nor its docket sheet, and therefore cannot summarize additional activity that may have occurred in it. Years later, however, community activist organizations filed a separate lawsuit in 2003 seeking protections against local and federal conduct in Philadelphia which, the plaintiffs contended, violated their constitutional rights and what they termed a "consent decree" entered in 1987 in this case. The allegation suggests that Judge Fullam's 1987 preliminary injunction, at some point, was converted to or adopted as, by consent of settling parties, a consent decree. (The separate lawsuit, ACORN v. City of Philadelphia, exists in this database as case PN-PA-6.)

Mike Fagan - 06/26/2008


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Unreasonable search and seizure
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action None on record
Defendant(s) City of the Philadelphia
We the People 200
Plaintiff Description Antiwar protest groups and civil rights groups claimed their constitutional rights had been violated because the National Park Service barred them from distributing leaflets and pamphlets during a bicentennial celebration in Philadelphia.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Federal Enforcement of Police Reform
By: Stephen Rushin (University of Illinois College of Law, University of California, Berkeley - Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program )
Citation: 82 Fordham Law Review 3189 (2014)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Panopticism for Police: Structural Reform Bargaining and Police Regulation by Data-Driven Surveillance
By: Mary D. Fan (University of Washington)
Citation: Forthcoming, 87 Washington L. Rev. __ (2012).
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  What Happens When Police Are Forced to Reform?
Written: Nov. 13, 2015
By: Kimbriell Kelly, Sarah Childress and Steven Rich (Frontline/Post)
Citation: Washington Post (Nov. 13, 2015)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
Memorandum and Order 07/10/1987 (665 F.Supp. 414) (E.D. Pa.)
PN-PA-0009-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Amended Complaint [different case] 09/23/2003
PN-PA-0009-0001.pdf | Detail
Judges Fullam, John Patrick (E.D. Pa.)
PN-PA-0009-0002
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Hansen, Christopher A. (New York)
PN-PA-0009-0001
Kairys, David (Pennsylvania)
PN-PA-0009-0002
Presser, Stefan (Pennsylvania)
PN-PA-0009-0001
Spitzer, Arthur (District of Columbia)
PN-PA-0009-0001
Walczak, Witold J. (Pennsylvania)
PN-PA-0009-0001
Defendant's Lawyers Garner, Joan K (Pennsylvania)
PN-PA-0009-0002
Teti, Ralph J. (Pennsylvania)
PN-PA-0009-0002
Other Lawyers None on record

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