(CN) – The 1st Circuit ruled that a Massachusetts political candidate does not have the right to campaign in front of the town’s post office.
Rinaldo Del Gallo III, who ran for a spot on the state Governor’s Council, challenged the Postal Service regulation that prevented him from collecting campaign signatures on the sidewalk in front of the post office in Pittsfield, Mass.
He sued the town’s postmaster, Roger Parent, and its police chief, Anthony Riello, after police arrested him for refusing to stop campaigning in front of the post office.
Customers had complained that Del Gallo was harassing and intimidating them over the three days leading to his arrest.
Judge Lynch of the Boston-based federal appeals court upheld the district court’s ruling in favor of the Pittsfield officials, citing the historical separation of the post office from the political process.
“Congress sought to insulate the Postal Service from electoral politics by establishing institutional buffers between the President and Congress on one hand, and … the Postal Service on the other,” Lynch wrote.
The judge also cited the rights of postal patrons to be free from politics when they get or drop off their mail.
“The postal service sidewalk in question is there to provide customers access to the entry to the Pittsfield Post Office,” Lynch ruled. “It is neither a public thoroughfare nor a gathering place.”