April 27, 2020—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.”