DENVER (April 4, 2022) – Firearms Policy Coalition today issued the following statement in response to summary judgment orders granted in Delbert Sgaggio v. De Young, et al., a case in which FPC filed an important brief to support a challenge to the City of Woodland Park, Colorado police department’s removal of criticisms posted by an individual to its Facebook page and banning the individual from further posting:
FPC is pleased with U.S. District Court Chief Judge Philip A. Brimmer’s ruling to protect the speech rights of a frustrated Coloradan who sharply criticized the Woodland Park Police Department on its Facebook page. The plaintiff, Delbert Sgaggio, referred to law enforcement on the public forum as “punk ass pigs,” “bitches” and “dirty ass cops.” In denying summary judgement for the defendant, Judge Brimmer rebuked claims made by the police department that the words Sgaggio used were ‘obscene’ and ‘offensive,’ stating “None of the words that plaintiff used in his posts were depictions of sexual conduct. Moreover, ‘the First Amendment protects a significant amount of verbal criticism and challenge directed at police officers.’”
FPC’s brief successfully argued that Sgaggio’s First Amendment rights were indeed violated by the police department’s censorship. Specifically, Judge Brimmer cites FPC’s brief to spotlight the erroneous claim by both the defendant and a now-retired Magistrate Judge–who had initially ruled in defendant’s favor–that the plaintiff had no right to free speech on its public forum because he is not a member of the media:
As FPC notes, the Tenth Circuit has explained that “First [A]mendment protection should not depend on whether the criticism is in the form of speech by a private individual or publication by the institutional press,” and “[t]o withhold the protections of the First Amendment from nonmedia participants in the political process would be to stand the amendment on its head without the slightest justification.”
FPC looks forward to Judge Brimmer’s eventual ruling in the case and will continue to defend individual liberties including the right to keep and bear arms and adjacent, interconnected rights such as free speech, due process, and privacy.
Firearms Policy Coalition (firearmspolicy.org), a 501(c)4 nonprofit organization, exists to create a world of maximal human liberty, defend constitutional rights, advance individual liberty, and restore freedom. FPC’s efforts are focused on the Right to Keep and Bear Arms and adjacent issues including freedom of speech, due process, unlawful searches and seizures, separation of powers, asset forfeitures, privacy, encryption, and limited government. The FPC team are next-generation advocates working to achieve the Organization’s strategic objectives through litigation, research, scholarly publications, amicus briefing, legislative and regulatory action, grassroots activism, education, outreach, and other programs. FPC Law (FPCLaw.org) is the nation’s largest public interest legal team focused on the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, and the leader in the Second Amendment litigation and research space.