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February 9, 1989

HARRY J. KLEIN, Plaintiff,
GREGORY W. BAISE, Secretary of Transportation of the Department of Transportation of the State of Illinois, and ILLINOIS CONVENIENCE & SAFETY CORP., Defendants

The opinion of the court was delivered by: SHADUR


 On January 17, 1989 Harry J. Klein ("Klein") filed a Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief against Secretary of Transportation Gregory W. Baise ("Baise"), of the Department of Transportation of the State of Illinois *fn1" and Illinois Convenience & Safety Corp. ("ICSC"), seeking to enjoin the enforcement of a portion of the Illinois Highway Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. ch. 121, para. 9-112.3) that governs the placing of advertising on bus shelters and that provides in part:

The owners may place advertising on the shelters if authorized by the license or permit, provided, however, that no political advertising shall be placed on any shelter on any street or highway at any time and further provided that advertising on shelters shall be limited to one-third of the vertical surface of the shelter.

 Klein contends the existence of that statute and its potential enforcement by Baise stops Klein from placing political advertisements of his candidacy for the office of Treasurer of the City of Burbank for the April 4, 1989 consolidated election, in violation of Klein's rights of free speech and to equal protection of the laws guaranteed under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. *fn2"

 On January 26, 1989 Klein filed a Motion for Preliminary Injunction, accompanied by the Affidavit of Harry J. Klein and Plaintiff's Memorandum of Law. ICSC has filed an answer to the Complaint (1) admitting it will not allow Klein to advertise because of the statute and its potential enforcement by Baise but (2) denying that its conduct violated Klein's rights. Baise has not filed an answer to the Complaint but has filed a Response in Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion for Preliminary Injunction and a Motion To Dismiss.

 This Court has given full consideration to all pleadings filed to this date, to arguments of counsel of all the parties and to relevant authorities. In accordance with Fed. R. Civ. P. ("Rule") 52(a) and 65(d), it is hereby ordered, adjudged and decreed:

 1. This Court has subject matter jurisdiction of this action under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1343.

 2. This Court's exercise of its discretion in granting a preliminary injunction is guided by the five factors identified in Roland Machinery Corp. v. Dresser Industries, Inc., 749 F.2d 380 (7th Cir. 1984). This Court finds that issuance of a preliminary injunction is necessary and appropriate for the following reasons:

 (a) Irreparable injury to plaintiff. This is a typical equity case where the only relief requested by Klein is injunctive and related declaratory relief. No damages are requested from any defendant. Because the election will be held on April 4, 1989, by definition Klein must advertise his candidacy before that date. Any relief given after the election date, or at any time before that date that would not allow adequate preparation of advertisements and publication for a sufficient length of time, will be of no benefit to Klein. Klein cannot easily wait until the end of trial to get that relief and will suffer irreparable harm in the interim that cannot be prevented or fully rectified by a final judgment after trial. Klein's rights of free speech and of access to the electoral process are extremely important First Amendment rights, and even minimal periods of loss of such rights unquestionably constitute irreparable injury ( Elrod v. Burns, 427 U.S. 347, 373, 49 L. Ed. 2d 547, 96 S. Ct. 2673 (1976)).

 (b) Lack of an adequate remedy at law. As already stated, Klein has not requested an award of damages, but is instead seeking injunctive and declaratory relief. Damages would be difficult if not impossible to calculate even if they were requested. No amount of damages at the end of trial would be adequate to compensate Klein if he were to lose the election because of defendants' actions (and of course there would be no way to determine whether such actions did or did not bear a causal relationship to a lost election).

 (c) Likelihood of success on the merits. Klein's likelihood of success on the merits is very high. Any absolute restriction on political advertising, such as that imposed by the statute, is content-based in that it prohibits public discussion of an entire topic ( Boos v. Barry, 485 U.S. 312, 108 S. Ct. 1157, 1163, 99 L. Ed. 2d 333 (1988); Consolidated Edison Co. of New York v. Public Service Commission of New York, 447 U.S. 530, 537, 65 L. Ed. 2d 319, 100 S. Ct. 2326 (1980)). Because the statute regulates (or more accurately prohibits) speech on the basis of its content, such action can be sustained "only if the government can show that the regulation is a precisely drawn means of serving a compelling state interest" (Consolidated Edison, id. at 540; accord, such cases as Perry Education Association v. Perry Local Educators' Association, 460 U.S. 37, 45, 74 L. Ed. 2d 794, 103 S. Ct. 948 (1983)). "Political speech is entitled to the fullest possible measure of constitutional protection" ( City of Los Angeles v. Taxpayers for Vincent, 466 U.S. 789, 816, 80 L. Ed. 2d 772, 104 S. Ct. 2118 (1984)). It would be an understatement to say there is a very substantial basis for considering that the statute's ban on political advertising violates the rights of both free speech and equal protection of the laws. No reason suggests itself (and Baise has offered none) for the banning of political advertising on advertising shelters, while all commercial advertising would be allowed. Political speech certainly enjoys the highest constitutional protection, yet the Illinois statute affords it far lower protection than commercial speech (or, more accurately, it affords political speech no protection at all). There is a very high likelihood that such a scheme violates the First Amendment -- indeed, commercial speech is a comparative latecomer to First Amendment protection and is sometimes perceived as entitled to a lesser degree of protection than noncommercial speech (of which political speech is a paradigm), so the Illinois statute may turn that view of constitutional doctrine directly on its head ( Metromedia, Inc. v. City of San Diego, 453 U.S. 490, 505, 513, 69 L. Ed. 2d 800, 101 S. Ct. 2882 (1981)). *fn3" Further, the statute also distinguishes among different types of noncommercial speech by allowing all noncommercial speech except political speech. There is also a high likelihood that such a scheme violates the same First (and hence Fourteenth) Amendment provisions concerning free speech as well as the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause.

 (d) Balancing of harms. Nothing has been presented to this Court that would show any harm to either defendant if a preliminary injunction is entered. Klein is not contesting the time, place and manner restrictions imposed by the statute, but is contesting only the prohibition against political advertising. There can be no doubt that a piece of paper containing political advertising -- having the same dimensions, and being placed on the same bus shelter, as a commercial advertisement -- does not present any harm at all to defendants, let alone any irreparable harm. Roland Machinery, 749 F.2d at 387-88 teaches the balancing of harms to litigants (that is, comparing the harm sustained by plaintiffs if a preliminary injunction were wrongfully denied with the harm sustained by defendants if the preliminary injunction is wrongfully granted) interacts with the likelihood of success on the merits on a sliding scale basis: In capsule form, the more likely the plaintiff is to win, the less heavily the balance of harms needs to weigh in his favor. Here plaintiff has shown a very high probability of winning, and no hardship on defendants has been shown at all, so that both components of the sliding-scale analysis weigh heavily in Klein's favor.

 (e) Public interest. Roland Machinery, id. at 388 requires this Court to consider the consequences to third parties of an order granting or denying preliminary relief. Here the "public interest," as it is termed in the case law, cannot be disserved by issuance of a preliminary injunction -- no legitimate interest of any third party has been or can be identified that would be infringed by such issuance. On the contrary, the granting of a preliminary injunction will affirmatively serve the public interest by assisting in informing the electorate about a candidate for election, ...

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