Since 1951, Philadelphia has had a charter provision that says, “No officer of member of the Philadelphia Police or of the Fire Department shall pay or give any money or valuable thing or make any subscription or contribution, whether voluntary or involuntary, for any political purpose whatever.”
In 2003, the part of this provision relating to firemen was struck down. On August 19, the Third Circuit also struck down the part that relates to police, at least as applied to the ability of police to contribute to their own union’s Political Action Committee. Here is the 57-page decision in Lodge Number 5 of the Fraternal Order of Police v City of Philadelphia, 13-1516. The decision acknowledges the corruption present in Philadelphia in 1951, when there were no civil service protections for city employees, and in some years 94% of all city employees made political contributions to the Republican Party, which had a machine in Philadelphia similar to similar Democratic machines in other big cities back then. The decision is by Judge Thomas Hardiman, a Bush Jr. appointee, and signed by Judges Anthony Scirica and Richard Nygaard, both Reagan appointees. Thanks to HowAppealing for the link.