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California’s Gavin Newsom Sued For Ban On Public Protests

By  James Barrett
   DailyWire.com
Gavin Newsom, governor of California, speaks during a news conference in Sacramento, California, U.S., on Tuesday, April 14, 2020. Newsom outlined his plan to lift restrictions in the most-populous U.S. state, saying a reopening depends on meeting a series of benchmarks that would remake daily life for 40 million residents. Photographer: Rich Pedroncelli/AP/Bloomberg
Rich Pedroncelli/AP/Bloomberg via Getty Images

On Monday, the Center for American Liberty filed a lawsuit against California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) for “depriving” Californians of their constitutionally protected rights of free speech, assembly and petition by effectively barring public protests through the enforcement of his “stay-at-home” orders.

In a press release Monday (full text below), the Center for American Liberty announced that it has filed the lawsuit on behalf of two Californians and in coordination with the high-profile firms of D. Gill Sperlein and the Dhillon Law Group. The lawsuit was filed “on behalf of clients Ron Givens and Christine ‘Chris’ Bish,” who are suing Newsom, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, and two other state officials “for depriving [them] of their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights,” the release states. “The plaintiffs are also seeking a Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction.”

“Governor Newsom issued Executive Order N-33-20 on March 19, 2020, ordering all residents to ‘heed current State public health directives,’ requiring all residents to stay at home,” the Center for American Liberty explains. “Neither the Governor’s Order or state public health directives exempt demonstrations, protests, or other First Amendment-protected activities from enforcement. The Governor has also specifically ordered the California Highway Patrol to deny protest/rally permits at the State Capitol, a core First Amendment speech venue. The Governor’s orders thus deny all California residents the right to exercise their First Amendment rights to free speech, free assembly, and petition.”

“At a time when Californians are rightfully questioning the duration and extent of the stay at home orders, which are unevenly enforced and which have resulted in other Constitutional challenges, Governor Newsom has reacted to citizen protests not by addressing widespread concern, but simply by shutting down protest at the Capitol altogether, making no reasonable accommodations for this fundamental function in a free society,” said Harmeet Dhillon, CEO of the center. “Our lawsuit seeks to vindicate several core First Amendment rights — the right to free speech, to assemble, and to petition the government. The government is also violating fundamental equal protection and due process rights.”

“In times of crisis, governments often seek to curtail fundamental constitutional rights such as the right to assemble and petition the government. It is precisely at these times that those rights become the most important,” said Sperlein.

The lawsuit comes after California Highway Patrol announced last week that they will no longer issue permits for any protests at any state properties, including the Capitol, which effectively bans residents from protesting.

Below is the full text of the press release issued by The Center for American Liberty on Monday:

The Center for American Liberty, in coordination with the Law Office of D. Gill Sperlein and the Dhillon Law Group, on behalf of clients Ron Givens and Christine “Chris” Bish, sued California Governor Gavin Newsom, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, and two other state officials for depriving plaintiffs of their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

The plaintiffs are also seeking a Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction.

Governor Newsom issued Executive Order N-33-20 on March 19, 2020, ordering all residents to “heed current State public health directives,” requiring all residents to stay at home. Neither the Governor’s Order or state public health directives exempt demonstrations, protests, or other First Amendment-protected activities from enforcement. The Governor has also specifically ordered the California Highway Patrol to deny protest/rally permits at the State Capitol, a core First Amendment speech venue. The Governor’s orders thus deny all California residents the right to exercise their First Amendment rights to free speech, free assembly, and petition.

Plaintiff Givens intends to protest the State’s failure to process background checks for those purchasing firearms as well as employment background checks for gun stores, effectively denying Californians of their Second Amendment rights.

Plaintiff Bish intends to protest the extent and duration of the State’s shelter-in-place order.

Both Plaintiffs Givens and Bish intend to hold their protests outside, on State Capitol grounds, in a safe and socially-distant manner. California Highway Patrol denied plaintiffs’ respective applications to use State Capitol grounds for their planned demonstrations depriving them of their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

“In times of crisis, governments often seek to curtail fundamental constitutional rights such as the right to assemble and petition the government. It is precisely at these times that those rights become the most important,” said D.Gill Sperlein, a lead attorney for the plaintiffs.

“At a time when Californians are rightfully questioning the duration and extent of the stay at home orders, which are unevenly enforced and which have resulted in other Constitutional challenges, Governor Newsom has reacted to citizen protests not by addressing widespread concern, but simply by shutting down protest at the Capitol altogether, making no reasonable accommodations for this fundamental function in a free society,” said Chief Executive Officer of the Center for American Liberty, Harmeet K. Dhillon, whose law firm, Dhillon Law Group Inc., also represents the plaintiffs. “Our lawsuit seeks to vindicate several core First Amendment rights — the right to free speech, to assemble, and to petition the government. The government is also violating fundamental equal protection and due process rights. We will be seeking a temporary restraining order in federal court ordering that our clients and other citizens be permitted to protest safely and peacefully again, as is their right under both the California and U.S. Constitutions.”

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