This is an action to determine the validity of a municipal ordinance governing parade permits.
On October 15, 1969 a complaint was filed directly with this court seeking temporary and permanent restraints against certain public officials. The facts as represented in the complaint and affidavits were as follows. October 15, 1969 was designated by various groups throughout the country to be a day of petition and protest against the United States' involvement in Viet Nam. To participate in this event, various persons created plaintiff unincorporated association to organize a program for October 15 in and around
Glassboro State College in the Borough of Glassboro. One of the planned events was to be a parade or march from Hollybush on the Glassboro campus to the Pitman Armory.
Glassboro in 1968 adopted an ordinance titled "An ordinance regulating parades and other similar uses of public places and the issuance of permits and provide standards for the issuance thereof and prescribing penalties for violation thereof," which requires a permit to hold a parade. On October 3, 1969 application was made to the borough and to the State Department of Transportation for permission to hold the parade. The rules governing the filing of such applications were observed and no objection was made by either the mayor or chief of police. On October 10, 1969 the State Department of Transportation rejected the use of state highways for the parade without stating its reasons. On October 13 an amended application for a parade permit was filed with the chief of police which encompassed only local roads and did not require the State's approval. The police chief at that time commended the leaders on their planning of the march, leading them to believe the permit would be granted. At 8 P.M. on October 14 the borough council met to consider the parade permit and voted 5-1 to reject the application.
Since the ordinance specifically left the decision on such applications to the chief of police and public safety committee and provided for rejection to be given at least five days before the date of the parade, the court felt the late rejection to be arbitrary and violative of plaintiffs' rights. An injunction was issued staying the enforcement of the ordinance and ordering the officials to permit the parade.
Although the issue is now moot, both parties agreed to submit memoranda for a final determination by the court on the constitutionality of the ordinance. Since the Borough of Glassboro is a college town, there is a great likelihood that this same type of situation will arise again. The ordinance is therefore in need of interpretation to prevent future attacks upon it. The issue has been squarely presented and will be decided.
Section 4(B) of the ordinance sets forth information that must be included in the application for a parade permit. Subsections 1 to 12 require information on the leadership and organization conducting the parade, the date, time, size, route, etc., all directed towards allowing a determination of the effect of the parade on traffic, fire and ambulance service, police protection and other permissible considerations. Plaintiffs have no quarrel with these provisions but object to subsection 13 which provides for "Any additional information which the Chief of Police shall find reasonably necessary to a fair determination as to whether a permit should issue."
Plaintiffs' brief states, "The areas of legitimate inquiry concerning the holding of a parade are fully and exhaustively enumerated in Section B 1-12 of the Glassboro Parade Ordinance." The court disagrees. The municipality undoubtedly recognized that it could not foresee every type of situation that might arise and wished to allow the chief of police to ask certain questions to be able to judge those circumstances. For example, suppose an application was for a night parade, then the chief of police would want to know what lighting was going to be involved. If lighter than air floats were involved, their height might be important to determine clearance under bridges, traffic signals, etc. If the line of march was to be close to a hospital, then the type of noise instruments or sound apparatus would be a proper consideration.
The court feels that section 4(B)(13) is valid so long as it is read in pari materia with the provisions it follows. Plaintiffs fear this provision allows the chief of police to inquire as to the beliefs and principles of the organization holding the parade or the identities of the members of the organization. These factors are not relevant to the standards for issuance of the permit (section 5) and are not properly within the scope of section 4(B)(13). To be constitutional, section ...