Will Anaheim’s “Free Speech” Speech Defenders Stand Up For 1st Amendment?

 

Photo courtesy of Dan Chmielewski

Photo courtesy of Dan Chmielewski

Progressives, those agents of diversity and tolerance, want to weaken the 1st Amendment of the Constitution in order to overturn the Citizens United decision, which they loathe with an intensity bordering on irrationality.

This anti-free speech amendment is being sponsored by Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico, who repeats the left-wing dogma that “Money and free speech are not the same thing, and it is a tortured logic to say so”. Try telling that to the candidate who cannot speak to the voters because he/she doesn’t have enough money.

This caused me to wonder whether this amendment is supported or opposed by those Anaheim gadflies who somberly lecture us that nothing can be done to prevent someone from yelling “F— the police” or abusing council members with nasty slurs during public comments at city council meetings?

For example, Greg Diamond – Brea resident, District Attorney candidate and perma-bloviator at council meetings — has been a staunch defender of the above view. He also considers the Citizens United decision an assault on democracy and compared it to “setting the theater on fire.”

Does he believe city government is powerless to stop someone from shouting obscenities at a council meeting, and at the same time support empowering the federal government with broad powers to regulate free political speech? 

 

 

32 comments

  1. From anon bloggers to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court… you are only correct when you agree with the whimsical mind of Greg, according to Greg

  2. Matthew Cunningham

    Still no answer from Greg Diamond about Udall’s constitutional amendment. We know he reads this blog, and we know he isn’t shy about sharing his opinions. As voters, don’t we deserve to know the stance of our would-be DA on this critical 1st Amendment issue?

  3. What, did you un-ban him?

    Speaking for myself, I found this one of your more bizarre stretches: Finding a contradiction between 1) acknowledging that existing law and court decisions prevents city councils from shutting up objectionable speakers, and 2) disagreeing strongly with a Supreme Court decision that upended decades of campaign finance law by granting corporations the First Amendment rights of people.

    You see a parallel there? Thank God for Anaheim Jack, at least one person seems to understand you.

    • Matthew Cunningham

      1) Greg has never been banned.

      2) There’s no stretch. The defense from you and Greg and the rest of the claque was based on free speech. None of you voiced any desire that the Anaheim city council’s presiding officer be able to stop obscenity-spewing public speakers. If they had the legal ability that you contend they lack, would you support such taking such action?

      As for Citizens United – the era of campaign finance “reform” (i.e. government restrictions on and regulation of how much can be given to a candidate in a free nation) is a very recent episode and at odds with most of American history. Campaign finance restrictions of the type you lefties worship didn’t start until this republic was 198 years old. So don’t talk as if Citizens United was some kind of aberration. On the contrary.

      The larger point stands — how do you and Greg and other lefties posture for the free speech rights of your confederate Denis Fitzgerald while simultaneously supporting AMENDING THE CONSTITUTION to empower the federal leviathan to impose controls on our free speech rights?

  4. “None of you voiced any desire that the Anaheim city council’s presiding officer be able to stop obscenity-spewing public speakers.”

    That’s not exactly true, Matt. I told you, and Dan, on numerous occasions that the issue is with Sacramento. For some strange reason, you both ignored that statement and chose to continue to blame the mayor for not taking illegal and reckless action to censor the content of speech.

    In the event the mayor did have the legal authority to uphold the council’s decorum resolution (or whatever it is), then he absolutely should do or he should hold a vote to change the decorum policy.

    Don’t blame “us” for you failing to ask the right question. If you want to hold a forum on what can (or should) be done to amend the Brown Act and what we view as a limited public forum– then do it.

    The claque isn’t responsible for answering your question that you didn’t ask.

    (Also, Vern, your version of #2 is way overstated. That’s not what SCOTUS did.)

    • Matthew Cunningham

      Ryan, it’s interesting that you assumed I was lumping you in with Vern and Greg, and that you associate yourself with them.

    • Matthew Cunningham

      It’s not exactly wrong, either. I don’t recall anyone voicing a desire for the mayor to have such authority, amidst the various vigorous defenses of doing little to nothing in the face a public stream of obscenities that were clearly calculated to be offensive and disruptive. It’s not like Fitzgerald has Tourette Syndrome; he is trying to be disruptive.

      • That’s not interesting, Matt. Having a similar opinion is not “association” either. I agree more with you than Vern on Citizens . . . it doesn’t mean I’m associating with you now does it?

        Trying to be disruptive and being disruptive are two different things . . . particularly when the state puts out strict criteria for what “disruptive” means. We’re not playing horseshoes. Intent and being close doesn’t count.

        What’s really interesting? Getting in a tizzy over someone pursuing a legal remedy to a judicial action related to suppression of speech while simultaneously defending an illegal executive action related to the suppression of speech.

        What you have here is another tangential attack the mayor for refusing to take illegal and reckless action to satisfy your whims. If you have a problem with four letter words being used at council, take it up with Sacramento.

        Heck, propose a constitutional amendment if you must. That’s a legal remedy to your problem.

        • Matthew Cunningham

          “I agree more with you than Vern on Citizens . . . it doesn’t mean I’m associating with you now does it?”

          No, Ryan – but you rarely, if ever, publicly agree with anything I post. On the other hand, you spend a good deal of time on Orange Juice Blog expressing your agreement with the opinions of the CATER crowd. And as you yourself have said, perception can be reality.

          Also, I disagree with your contention – shared by Diamond and others – that the council is powerless to do anything when Fitzgerald slanders councilmembers or some agitator starts yelling F-bombs. From what I’ve read, these recent examples fall within the parameters of what is disruptive behavior, and Anaheim would very likely win any litigation on the matter.

          http://www.cacities.org/UploadedFiles/LeagueInternet/b1/b1868106-9ea5-4bb1-bd0d-296bf693d417.pdf

          http://www.uclalawreview.org/?p=1151

          The 9th Circuit upheld a council ejecting a member of the public for giving a Nazi salute – but you don’t think the Anaheim council can turn off the microphone when someone is calling councilwomen “sluts” or is yelling “F— the police! and “motherf—–r!”?

          Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that you and Diamond and others are correct on this matter. When the mayor goes out of his way to tell the audience that they can come to the podium and be obscene, slanderous and profane and that he can do nothing to about it – what do you think the result will be?

          But back to the point of this post – there is a disconnect between Diamond’s free speech advocacy in defense of the Fitzgerald’s of the world, and his desire to re-write the 1st Amendment and therefore diminish everyone’s free speech rights because he thinks Citizens United allows corporations to spend “too much” money on politics. Such an aggressive desire to use federal power to regulate free speech is unbecoming in someone who aspires to be the county’s chief prosecutor.

          • You really ought to read the material contained in links you post. The 9th circuit did no such thing. Perhaps it’s a good thing that I rarely agree with things you post.

            From the UCLA piece critiquing the decision of the *partial* court:

            “The decision’s implication that disruption encompasses affronts to decorum as well as tangible hindrances of official business is troubling . . .”

            Uh oh. Could this be a sign of things to come? Getting embarrassed yet?

            Again, from your own link:

            The court in Norse emphasized that city councils are not free to define “disruption” in whatever manner they choose. Rather, the court explained that “[a]ctual disruption means actual disruption. It does not mean constructive disruption, technical disruption, virtual disruption, nunc pro tunc disruption, or imaginary disruption.”

            Still not embarrassed?

            “Courts have invalidated orders that individuals be removed from meetings where the courts concluded that the actions were based on the viewpoints of the speakers, or speech offended the sensibilities of the public officials.”

            Ah, shoot– why not one more just to make sure you’re good and embarrassed. Here’s what the 9th actually said:

            “We decline the City’s invitation to rewrite First Amendment law to extinguish the rights that citizens have when they attend public meetings.”

            “We must respectfully reject the City’s attempt to engage us in doublespeak.”

            I love that last one.

            Here’s what you meant to cite: http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2010/12/15/07-15814.pdf

            So, not only would Anaheim not succeed in defending what you want them to do– it is ABUNDANTLY CLEAR THAT THEY’D FAIL MISERABLY. What’s it going to take for you to admit you’re wrong? How about to apologize to the mayor for stirring up a crap storm due to your own ignorance?

            You have a fundamental misunderstanding of law and order, Matt. Your
            critique of the mayor is wrong. Your understanding of the law is wrong. Your imaginary description of what is going to happen to society if the mayor follows the law is wrong. Your summation of Diamond’s position is wrong, too.

            Again, one last time for the record . . . Mayor Tait is following the law. If you have a problem with the law, go and change the law. While I don’t necessarily agree with those who’d like to change Citizens, they’re using a legal means to change the law.

            That’s no different from what you’re trying to do . . . except what they want to do is legal.

            • Matthew Cunningham

              “Not surprisingly, judges and local officials have struggled to draw this fine distinction, as exemplified by the recent Ninth Circuit opinion, Norse v. City of Santa Cruz.[1] In Norse, a divided panel held that city officials did not violate a citizen’s First Amendment rights by ejecting him from two municipal meetings—one in which he paraded around the city council cham­bers in protest and another in which he silently gave a Nazi-style salute.”

              So, you agree that it is legal to eject someone from a council meeting for giving a Nazi salute? But not if someone comes to the podium and starts yelling “f— this” and “motherf—– that”?

              “How about to apologize to the mayor for stirring up a crap storm due to your own ignorance?”

              Holy Cow – you have GOT to be kidding. Yes, Ryan – it’s my fault Denis Fitzgerald disrupts council meetings with his obscene, misogynistic, homophobic rants. It’s my fault that anti-police agitators disrupt a council meeting with f-bombs. Yes, Ryan — none of that was an issue or a controversy until I complained about it. Boy, how did I not see that before you opened my eyes?

              • MATT– YOU’RE CITING CASE LAW THAT WAS OVERTURNED A FEW MONTHS LATER.

                Clear enough for you?

                Holy cow, man. Get a grip.

            • Matthew Cunningham

              “In City of Norwalk, we held that city council meetings, once open to public participation, are limited public forums. A council can regulate not only the time, place, and manner of speech in a limited public forum, but also the content of speech – as long as content-based regulations are viewpoint neutral and enforced that way.”

              From your link.

            • Matthew Cunningham

              But I am not going to go back-and-forth with you all day on this, Ryan. You seem to have time to do so; I don’t.

              • We’re not going back and forth. You keep throwing up links and quotes that support my position and damn yours and somehow you keep denying reality.

                You can act like you understand this all you want. it doesn’t change the fact that you’re wrong.

                Seriously, Matt– what’s it going to take? This is settled case law.

                • Matthew Cunningham

                  What’s it going to take?

                  Apparently, never, ever disagreeing with Ryan Cantor.

                  • I hope you at least read that comment before you deleted it, Matt.

                    • Matthew Cunningham

                      I read it. I thought it a complete over-reaction.

                    • I’m sure you did.

                      SO. No admission that you’re wrong then?

                    • Matthew Cunningham

                      I haven’t had time to follow up on what you posted, but I will take your word for it on the 9th Circuit Curt decision and acknowledge being wrong on what the full circuit court decided (notwithstanding your ungracious, dyspeptic attitude throughout the discussion). At the same time, there seems to me to have been sufficient difference of opinion within the court that I don’t accept your absolute flat assertion as objective truth that a council is powerless in the face of this kind of behavior.

                      And perhaps you can acknowledge that leadership and attitude from the dais has a great deal to do with how the public behaves during public comments, and that obscene, uncivil behavior results when it is practically invited.

                    • Matt,

                      There’s no debate in the court. None. The partial court made an error, which was made clear in the later holding. The larger court also made it clear that this has been decided over and over and over. If Anaheim took your advice and went to court, they’d lose. That makes your suggestion reckless. What’s worse is that you’ve been making the same reckless suggestion for months while evidence discrediting your course of action has been in no short supply. Continuing to claim “I refuse to admit the council is powerless” is nothing short of willful ignorance.

                      This isn’t about the council being powerless. The council is NOT powerless to stop actual disruption to its meetings. It absolutely is powerless to regulate the **content** of speech. I’m sorry you don’t like profanity. I’m sorry you don’t like it when profanity is directed at the police . . . just because you don’t like it doesn’t make it illegal and subject to government intrusion to satisfy your tender ears.

                      If you really think the mayor of Anaheim should be able to deprive citizens of their right to address their government based on the use of a four letter word, host a forum on why that’s right or wrong. Don’t purposely muddy the issue into a discussion of why I’m being contrary, ungracious, or dyspeptic.

                      My being whatever your insult of the day is won’t get Anaheim sued. What you’re suggesting be done in Anaheim’s City Hall will. As an advocate for good government, that ought to offend you.

                      Less focus on me, more focus on you, please.

                      –RC

                    • Matthew Cunningham

                      I genuinely like you, Ryan, but you are really a piece of work sometimes. “More focus on you, please” – sheesh. That’s all you do. You’ve turned into this tunnel-visioned, monomaniacal attack robot who is programmed for only a couple of functions.

                      I’m not purposely muddying anything (I’ll thank you to stop acting as if you are privy to what I am thinking), and I don’t owe anyone an apology. I do have a difference of opinion with you; you are not infallible; and the courts have been known to be wrong.

                      But be my guest and continue, as a commenter noted, acting like an arrogant know-it-all – because it doesn’t help you persuade anyone.

                    • So what WOULD help me persuade you, Matt?

                      I’ve given you court case after court case after court case. What else do you require?

                      This isn’t a difference of opinion. These are facts. While courts do on occasion reverse themselves on significant social issues, regulating a four letter word in a limited public forum ain’t one. We’re not interpreting the law here– someone already did that for us. Many times over in fact.

                      Why do you continue to hold an opinion on what the mayor can and can’t do that’s contrary to decades of settled case law? My personal flaws really have nothing to do with it.

                      Why is it so important that you focus on my vice or arrogance and so willingly tolerate your own vice of stubbornness?

                      I’ve conceded mine and it’s something I work on every single day. I will continue to fail, but at least I’m willing to try to improve.

                      You haven’t one sound premise on which to base your conclusion. Explain why that’s OK.

                • Fun thread!

                  Seriously, if I were an ordinary citizen reading this, I’d tend to side with Matt, not least because Ryan comes across as such an arrogant know-it-all.

                  • The sick part about that is you’re probably right.

                    I really don’t want to look like a know it all, particularly on this topic because it’s plain as day what the rules are.

                    Blame me for looking like a jackass? Fine. I own that. Matt is still wrong and he owes everyone an apology.

  5. I’ve found myself unable to post comments here before. That may be different from “banned.” Or Matt could be lying — or just forgetful.

    My attitude towards Fitzgerald’s speech — which, as you routinely forget to mention, has been strongly defended by Anaheim’s City Attorney, Michael Houston, whose opinion Mayor Tait has asked several times in real time with respect to Fitzgerald, James Robert Reade, and at least one other — is based on my understanding of the law. That’s what the law says, whether you like it or not. I think that these are hard issues — people like you, who try to score political points, act as if they are not.

    The “speech” that you identify with spending obscene amounts of money to influence and warp perceptions of reality is an attack on the very operating system of our representative democracy. That’s what bothers me about it — and that also seems to be exactly what you like about it. Because God help you if you ever get into a fair fight.

    • Matthew Cunningham

      So is Michael Houston always right, Greg? Or just when he agrees with you?

      You’ve never been banned. No one has. You go into comment moderation a lot. But leave it to you to blow that out of proportion in a uniquely solipsistic way. Thank goodness your chances of being elected DA are less than a snowball’s chance in hell.

    • Matthew Cunningham

      Citizens United is also the law of the land, Greg. But I don’t see you opining that the legal constraints supposedly stopping anyone from doing anything about the Fitzgeralds and F— the Police crowd.

      And I’m curious: what is the dollar threshold at which campaign spending becomes “obscene”?

  6. Michael Houston is right when he’s right and wrong when he’s wrong. Asking if he’s “always right” manages to be both feeble and febrile.

    If I tried to enforce the law in a way opposed to the holding of Citizens United, prior to its being justly overturned, I would rightly be smacked down.

    It’s hard to specify the dollar threshold at which campaign donations — spending by donors, as should have been obvious from context — becomes obscene because it is receding so rapidly in the rear-view mirror. Wait, I’ll be less glib: that’s a stupid question. There’s no set number; it’s just at the point where the donations become “legalized bribery.”

    P.S.: If it’s solipsistic, then it pretty much HAS to be unique, right?

  7. Ryan is the one who doesn’t understand what he’s reading. The 9th Circuit clearly rules councils have latitude to enforce decorum. Ryan cherry picks quotes and interprets it to mean councils have no discretion.

    • RJ,

      Matt quoted an earlier decision from the 9th (heard by only a part of the court) that overturned a district court’s ruling.

      That decision was heard by the entire 9th circuit a few months later, which overturned the partial court’s opinion and remanded the case back to the district court.

      It’s not cherry picking. Sorry.

      Matt just assumed the partial court’s opinion was the final version and it wasn’t. Why he’s denial of that is freakin’ amazing, but that’s how it is.

      –RC

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