Judge Rules Gaetz, Greene Can Proceed With Lawsuit Against 2 California Cities for Canceling Rallies Over ‘Political Views’

Kos Temenes
By Kos Temenes
March 25, 2024Politics
Judge Rules Gaetz, Greene Can Proceed With Lawsuit Against 2 California Cities for Canceling Rallies Over ‘Political Views’
(L–R) Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) speaks as Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) listen during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Nov. 17, 2022. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

A California federal judge ruled that Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) can proceed with their lawsuit against two California cities based on the allegation that the cancelation of two of their political rallies was discriminatory to their political beliefs.

U.S. District Judge Hernán Vera on March 22 determined that the cancelation of their 2021 rallies in Riverside and Anaheim was “expressly predicated on viewpoint discrimination.”

“Plaintiffs adequately allege that the municipal defendants delegated to their respective agents the authority to cancel the rally (and/or ratified the relevant conduct after the fact) and that the event cancellations were expressly predicated on viewpoint discrimination,” the judge wrote.

Judge Vera, however, contested allegations of conspiracy between several left-leaning civil rights organizations and the cities as lacking substance.

“The Complaint is utterly devoid of any specifics plausibly alleging such an agreement,” he wrote.

Mr. Gaetz and Ms. Greene had planned to hold America First rallies in the Californian cities. Both venues canceled the events after local government officials and several activist groups, voiced their opposition to the event, which Mr. Gaetz and Ms. Greene said violated their First Amendment rights.

Following the cancelation, they held a peaceful protest outside Riverside City Hall, vowing to stand up for their right to hold the rallies. More than 100 people gathered to support Mr. Gaetz and Ms. Greene, some holding signs.

Known for their outspokenness, the two lawmakers have made headlines as disruptors in the Republican party and for supporting former President Trump.

The GOP lawmakers sued for an injunction that would ban cities from “coercing private venues from entering into facilities use contracts with Plaintiffs for future political rallies,” as well as damages for emotional distress.

The lawsuit implicates nine groups, including the League of Women Voters, the NAACP, Women’s March Action, the Riverside County Democratic Party, and Occupy Democrats.

Judge Vera, an appointee of the Biden administration, accused Mr. Gaetz and Ms. Greene of “settling political scores against these civic organizations” by filing the “unprecedented and stunningly deficient pleading” in the first place.

Moreover, the judge rejected their claim of violation of the First Amendment, saying the defendants exercised their own First Amendment rights.

The Free Speech Clause prohibits only governmental abridgment of speech. The Free Speech Clause does not prohibit private abridgment of speech,” the judge wrote in the ruling.

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