FPC Member Sues State of California for Violation of 1st Amendment Rights.
Firearms Policy Coalition is funding a new federal First Amendment lawsuit filed by a pro-civil rights political blogger after their political speech was censored and taken down by the State of California
Sacramento, CA -(AmmoLand.com)- A just-filed First Amendment lawsuit challenges the State of California’s attempt to censor a political blog using an unusual and unconstitutional “takedown” process authorized by a state statute.
The lawsuit is funded by the Firearms Policy Coalition, and filed on behalf of one of the Coalition’s members.
“Publius” (a pseudonym, since the challenged law carries a criminal penalty) runs a political blog under the alias “The Real Write Wringer” and writes extensively about California politics, civil liberties, and the Second Amendment.
The case, Doe Publius v. Diane Boyer-Vine, Legislative Counsel of California, seeks a restraining order against and challenges California Government Code section 6254.21(c), which broadly restricts the publication of the home address or telephone number of any “elected or appointed official” on the Internet.
Following California Governor Jerry Brown’s July 1 2016 signing of six new gun control laws, the FPC member (pseudonymized as “Publius” in the lawsuit due to potential criminal liability) published a post on July 5 2016 saying, in part;
“… below is the names, home addresses, and home phone numbers of all the legislators who decided to make you a criminal if you don’t abide by their dictates. So below is the current tyrant registry. These are the people who voted to send you to prison if you exercise your rights and liberties. This will be a constantly updated list depending on future votes ….”
Soon after, the political blog’s hosting site, WordPress.com, received a censorious takedown letter from the California Legislative Counsel threatening litigation if the “tyrant registry” wasn’t removed due to the “grave risk” that it supposedly posed to the safety of elected officials.
In her letter, Deputy Legislative Counsel Kathryn Londenberg told WordPress.com that;
“My office represents the California State Legislature” and that it had “come to [their] attention that the home addresses of 14 Senators and 26 Assembly Members have been publically [sic] posted on an Internet Web site hosted by you without the permission of these elected officials. ”She went on to say that if the content was not taken down within 48 hours, “we reserve the right to file an action seeking injunctive relief, as well as associated court costs and attorney’s fees.”
WordPress.com, which sees about 83 million unique monthly visits, and Automattic capitulated immediately, removing Publius’ “tyrant registry” content and subsequently barring them from publishing any similar content.
“Our Publius lawsuit argues that a State of California statute and the Legislative Counsel’s demand letter threatening legal action and penalties unconstitutionally forced WordPress into taking down the material,” explained Brandon Combs, president of Firearms Policy Coalition.
“Our member’s truthful, non-threatening speech was attacked mere days after the elected subjects of their speech carpet-bombed the Bill of Rights in the largest legislative attack on Second Amendment rights in decades.”
“FPC will not tolerate it or its members voices being censored by any government.”
“The First Amendment protects the publication of facts about government officials, especially facts drawn from the public record,” explained Eugene Volokh, an attorney and UCLA law professor working on the Publius case.
“Of course, the First Amendment doesn’t protect true threats of violence, but the statute and the California government’s demand letter forbid all publication of these facts, whether or not accompanied by threats.”
The publication of legislators’ addresses and phone numbers can serve a variety of lawful purposes.
For example, residential picketing is allowed in many places, and concerned citizens can hardly engage in such picketing to demand action from their legislators without knowing where they live.
And even where a local government has a valid content-neutral restriction on residential picketing, marching through residential neighborhoods, or even walking a route in front of an entire block of houses, is likely constitutionally protected conduct.
In Brayshaw v. City of Tallahassee, 709 F. Supp. 2d 1244 (N.D. Fla. 2010), the ACLU of Florida challenged a similar statute and got it struck down in an order by United States District Court Judge Richard Smoak, who held that the Florida law was facially, “invalid as unconstitutional under the First and Fourteenth Amendments.”
Following the victory, Randall Marshall, ACLU of Florida Legal Director, said that it, “cannot be a crime to publish truthful information. With very rare exceptions, courts protect the publication of truthful information that is already available to the public.”
Publius is represented by Bradley Benbrook and Stephen Duvernay of Benbrook Law Group as well as Eugene Volokh, a UCLA law professor who has written and taught extensively about the First and Second Amendments.
Before joining the UCLA faculty 20 years ago, Volokh clerked for Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and Justice Sandra Day O’Connor of the U.S. Supreme Court. He also operates the popular legal blog “The Volokh Conspiracy,” now hosted at the Washington Post.
A copy of the complaint, which includes exhibits containing the censored content, can be viewed or downloaded at https://www.firearmspolicy.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/2016-08-05-Complaint-with-Exhibits-filed.pdf.
The CA Tyrant Registry is still available online:
- CA Tyrant Registry : https://www.ar15.com/forums/t_8_11/603408_.html
- CA Tyrant Registry : https://andyrutledge.com/tyrants-at-home.html
- Please send us more links, in the comments, to other copies of the CA Tyrant Registry, published online, as you find them.
About Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC):
Firearms Policy Coalition is a grassroots 501(c)4 nonprofit public benefit organization. FPC’s mission is to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, especially the fundamental, individual Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.
More information about FPC can be found at www.firearmspolicy.org.
Here’s another copy of The Tyrant Registry. Long may it wave. Screaming, kicking, whining, fascists can write (or type) demand letters until their fingertips bleed, but this content is never going to be taken down. In other words, I’ll given you my data when you pry it from my cold, dead servers. By which time it will be copied a million times somewhere else. Screw you, California!
I have the list of Kommiecticut tyrants responsible for the 2013 post Sandy Hook infringements and the 2016 additions posted on my blog. They apparently either don’t know or don’t care, because after all, no one is concerned with what us lowly peasants think. You would think that with all the anti-government, Armed Civil Disobedience stuff I write about, I would be silenced behind razor wire in some camp by now.
so these creeps are our representatives” yet hide in the shadows, and refuse to allow themselvess to be held accountable for their “decisions” that harm us?
Time to toss the lot of them. Oh wait, I forgot, that’s Califormula…. where the scum rises to the top and stays there. Iggerunt voters don’t seem to care, long as they have their streaming TeeVee indoctrination, mind pablum in every room of their condos, and preprogrammed radio on their “mobile devices” and mainlined into their crania continuously.Eough to rot anyone’s brains.
It’s all public record. It just isn’t in one spot so people have to look elsewhere. That should not have to be. Every legistlater needs to have their home address and phone listed. If they don’t wnat the phone listed, dedicate a cell phone for public business.
Time to tell ’em no and protect FPC with the — wait for it — MILITIA!!
SO THEY DON’T LIKE WHEN WE TELL ALL OF AMERICA WHAT THEIR ADDRESS IS? WELL GEEEEZ, I GUESS THEY’LL HATE IT EVEN MORE WHEN WE SHOW UP AT THEIR HOUSE TO PROTEST. ASK PAUL RYAN HOW THAT WENT WHEN HE SHIT ALL OVER THE VOTERS IN HIS DISTRICT. AND BESIDES, EVERY LEVEL OF TYRANNICAL GOVERNMENT KNOWS WHERE I LIVE, I GET MAIL FROM THEM SONSABITCHES ALL THE TIME
IIRC, many years ago some print publication was enjoined from publishing the names and home addresses of serving police officers. (New York City maybe??)
Enjoined for 30 days as I recall.
That was, in the opinion of the judge, enough time for any officer that felt threatened to sell their home have the court assign a legal alias and move. At the officers’ own expense.
This would not seem to be in any significant form dissimilar.
EVERY politician that votes against the 2nd amendment and the right to protect ones self should have their names, addresses and phone posted. THEY are taking our rights away and they should/will be held accountable. This should be done in EVERY state !
These same people will not hesitate to publish the home address of every concealed carry permit holder. Can you say hypocrite?
Actually Michael remember this is California, so almost the only people with CCW are these dirtbags and their ilk. So unless there was a carve out for them they probably would block that being published.
that is certainly true in the big cities, but out in the toolies there are thousands of folks have put up with the misery of getting their Mother May I Card. Over four thousand in Tulare County alone (pop maybe 50K?) Guess what? Violent crime in that county is rare. Property crimes, not so much, but even those are down compared to, say, LA, Sacto, SF, SJ, Berserkeley, Oakland, etc…..
Aren’t these the same people who tout ‘government transparency’?
bet if you posted a list of Gun owners in CA. they wouldn’t complain about that or have it taken down!
How dare you think politicians should be held accountable for their actions. Didn’t work for Clinton, won’t work for the other brown shirts in Californication. The fix is in.