SACRAMENTO (December 15, 2016) — Today, attorneys for two Second Amendment civil rights advocates have requested an injunction in a federal First Amendment lawsuit challenging a California statute that broadly restricts the Internet publication of the home address or telephone number of any “elected or appointed official.”
Plaintiff Doe Publius, filing under a pseudonym due to a fear of government retaliation and the potential for criminal prosecution under the challenged law, runs a political blog under the alias “The Real Write Wringer” and writes extensively about California politics, civil liberties, and the Second Amendment. Publius (through their Web host, WordPress.com) was served a censorious takedown letter from the California Legislative Counsel threatening litigation if their “tyrant registry,” which was posted after Governor Jerry Brown signed six new gun control bills into law on July 1, wasn’t removed due to the “grave risk” that it supposedly posed to the safety of elected officials. Publius is a member of the civil rights advocacy organization Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC), which lobbied against dozens of gun control bills this year.
Another plaintiff, Derek Hoskins, is the owner of northeastshooters.com, an online forum for discussing firearms issues and shooting sports activities, news, and politics a Web forum owner. In addition to his First Amendment claim, he is challenging the State’s enforcement of the law under the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause as well as Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (47 U.S.C. § 230). Like Publius, the Legislative Counsel issued a takedown demand to Hoskins based on a discussion thread concerning the controversy over the Legislative Counsel’s takedown demand to Publius. The Legislative Counsel required Hoskins “to continue to ensure that” the censored information is not reposted anywhere on his forum for four years.
“In a time where government officials are actively passing legislation to criminalize law-abiding gun owners and eliminate Second Amendment rights, the First Amendment’s protection of political speech and protest by law-abiding gun owners is more necessary than ever,” said FPC President Brandon Combs.
The injunction hearing is scheduled to take place at 8:30 a.m. on Feb. 6, 2017, at the United States Courthouse in Fresno before Chief District Court Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill.
A copy of the amended complaint and other case documents can be viewed or downloaded at https://www.firearmspolicy.org/legal/publius_v_boyer_vine.
Firearms Policy Coalition (www.firearmspolicy.org) is a grassroots, nonprofit advocacy organization. FPC’s mission is to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, especially the fundamental, individual Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.