BY JEFF SHIELDS INQUIRER STAFF WRITER The Pennsylvania Supreme Court yesterday issued a preliminary injunction forbidding Philadelphia from placing an anti-casino referendum question on the May 15 ballot. In a strong, but not fatal, blow to the activists and neighbors opposed to slots casinos planned for Fishtown and South Philadelphia, the court granted the Gaming Control Board’s request to halt a vote on the proposal to bar casinos from most city neighborhoods.
In a 15-line order that contained no explanation or rationale, the court also said it wanted lawyers for both sides to file legal briefs in an expedited fashion by April 27, which indicates it could issue a final order before May 15.
Yesterday’s injunction suggests that the gaming board will likely prevail, attorneys for both sides agreed. “The preliminary injunction is really troubling, because it endangers the entire referendum,” said Maurice Mitts, an attorney for City Council, which unanimously approved the ballot question last month.
Members of Casino-Free Philadelphia, the organization that proposed the referendum, called the decision outrageous. Daniel Hunter, Casino-Free Philadelphia coordinator, directed his anger at the gaming board, which he said “should hang their head in shame for stomping on democracy in order to get their way.”