Plaintiffs want to publish TV ads opposing Gavin Newsom’s “Safety for All Act” gun control ballot initiative and pending gun control bills but cannot due to California law criminalizing use of Assembly video footage for political purposes
SACRAMENTO – Today, attorneys for two civil rights groups opposing Gavin Newsom’s “Safety for All” gun control ballot initiative, two Emmy Award-winning filmmakers, a San Diego-based civil rights activist, and a candidate for Congress filed a motion for a temporary restraining order in the Eastern District of California federal court to prevent enforcement of California Government Code section 9026.5, a statute that bans the use of Assembly video footage in political advertisements.
A violation of section 9026.5 is a misdemeanor crime that carries penalties of up to 1 year of jail time and a $1,000 fine per occurrence.
Today’s request for a temporary restraining order in Firearms Policy Coalition Second Amendment Defense Committee, et al., v. California Attorney General Kamala Harris may be heard as early as next week.
The brief filed today in support of the plaintiffs’ request argues that “[section 9026.5] has chilled Plaintiffs’ exercise of core political speech and inhibited the free-flow of discussion about public issues” and that “[d]iscussion of public issues is integral to the operation of the system of government established by our Constitution.”
“This is really a straightforward case about one of the most fundamental rights we have,” said Brandon Combs, the chairman of the Firearms Policy Coalition Second Amendment Defense Committee PAC. “Our Republic depends on the freedom to speak freely about political issues and elected politicians, especially those that could drastically affect other fundamental rights like the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.”
As the plaintiffs’ brief notes, “The Assembly carries on the legislative business on behalf of the citizens of California and it creates video footage that captures those proceedings. California cannot restrict its citizens from sharing that footage with fellow citizens in furtherance of their fundamental speech rights.”
The plaintiffs are represented by Bradley Benbrook and Stephen Duvernay of Benbrook Law Group, PC, and Eugene Volokh, a UCLA law professor who has written and taught extensively about the First and Second Amendments.
A copy of the petition for temporary restraining order for Firearms Policy Coalition Second Amendment Defense Committee, et al. v. Attorney General Kamala Harris can be viewed or downloaded at http://bit.ly/fpcsadc-v-harris-tro-brief.