Pennsylvania Record

Friday, April 10, 2020

Press & Journal accuses Borough of Middletown of First Amendment violations


By Bree Gonzales | Nov 6, 2018

General court 10

HARRISBURG — The publisher of the Middletown Press & Journal is suing the Borough of Middletown, a political subdivision of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, citing an alleged violation of plaintiff’s First Amendment rights.

Press and Journal Inc. filed a complaint on Oct. 23 in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania against the Borough of Middletown, alleging the political subdivision of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania terminated its century-long commercial relationship with plaintiff because of viewpoints expressed in its news reporting and editorials.

According to the complaint, the plaintiff alleges that Press and Journal Inc. inquired of the Borough the reason for the abrupt termination of all advertising with it in June and has received defendant's confirmation that it was ceasing further advertising with them through a letter dated July 17. The letter stated that the termination was due to the publication of the following subjects: The Elks Theatre, National Night Out, Police Discipline, Borough Ordinances Affecting Student Housing, and Litigation Against Suez and McNees, Wallace & Nurick. 

The plaintiff holds Borough of Middletown responsible because allegedly the Borough’s refusal to continue its commercial relationship with the Press & Journal was due to the content and viewpoints published in the pages of the newspaper, which violates plaintiff’s First Amendments rights to freedom of speech and press.

The plaintiff seeks to permanently enjoin the Borough of Middletown and its mayor, councilors, officials, agents and employees from discriminating against them in the award of contracts because of plaintiff’s past, present or future exercise of its right to free association as protected under the First Amendment, plus attorneys' fees and costs. They are represented by Aaron Martin, Michael Reed and Veronica Boyer of Mette, Evans & Woodside in Harrisburg.

The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania Case No. is 1:18-cv-02064-CCC.

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Organizations in this Story

Commonwealth of PennsylvaniaU.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania Harrisburg DivisionMette Evans & Woodside