First amendment assault: Newspaper in the OC in CA is SOL with SLAAP

We recently reported on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposal to conduct a “critical information needs” study that would have placed the government agency in newsrooms across America. Thanks to their plan being exposed and the outrage of the American people, it seems the FCC has recanted. But is that truly the end of the issue of government assault on First Amendment rights?

Gina Loudon uncovered a case in California where local government is seeking to undermine that right. She reports,

“After city officials voted to ban criticism of them on public property, more than 100 citizen activists in Orange County, Calif., rallied to express outrage over what they characterize as an attack on their First Amendment rights. Technically, what the city council of San Juan Capistrano (SJC), Calif., did was to vote behind closed doors to ban newspaper racks from city property.”

The vote occurred just four days after one publication, Community Common Sense (CCS), which often has been critical of the council majority, placed its news rack alongside others at city hall and the community center. The council moved swiftly in response by banning all racks. Obviously they sought not to specifically target the Community Common Sense. Community Common Sense then filed a lawsuit to restore the news racks to city property and the city raised the fight to the next level — they filed a motion.

City officials filed an anti-SLAPP (Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation) motion, alleging that CCS violated the rights of the council majority. The anti-SLAPP law aims to prevent plaintiffs from suing defendants with the goal not of winning the lawsuit but of silencing free speech and warning others not to cross the plaintiff. With the anti-SLAPP motion, the city claims the lawsuit brought by CCS is frivolous and is only an attempt to intimidate and stifle the free speech rights of the elected officials.

So let me get this right, the San Juan Capistrano City Council doesn’t like being criticized so they vote to ban news racks from public property. A publication files a lawsuit against their action. The City Council files a motion against the publication stating they have the freedom of speech to outlaw freedom of speech? Doggone glad that I don’t live in California.

The anti-SLAPP suit against CCS isn’t the only intimidation the publication is getting from public officials. Alvin Ehrig, a volunteer for CCS, claims he witnessed stacks of CCS newspapers being thrown in the trash by a volunteer worker at the San Juan Capistrano Senior Center. He approached a person in charge and informed her of the actions of the volunteer. In a sworn statement, Ehrig said, “She told me how much she hated [CCS] and that it had no place at the Senior Center.”Orange County sheriff’s detectives later appeared at Ehrig’s home and the detectives then warned him “not to put CCS newspapers on any city property.”

I don’t care if CCS is liberal or conservative, this is horribly wrong and is unacceptable anywhere in America. Any residents out there from Orange County in California? What do you think?

Leave a Reply

83 Comments on "First amendment assault: Newspaper in the OC in CA is SOL with SLAAP"

avatar
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Sam M
Guest

I moved from the OC 4 years ago. I love the OC and all it’s greatness but liberals are working their way in. Now a days we’re supposed to tow the line and not question. Liberals want suppression and their are lots of liberals in SJC. Lots of pot, tree hugging hippies that would rather be part of LA or San Fran then the OC!

tallron
Guest

What are the chances that a publication with “Common Sense” in the title would be a liberal tract?

Samantha
Guest
I need more information. It may not be an issue of free speech, but of propaganda on public property. Liberals are quick to spew their bs in public schools and property and cry foul when ousted, but never give the same courtesy to liberals. Living in Los Angeles I know that area of the OC to be pretty conservative, so this may be a case of liberal publications trolling public property in an attempt to get their bs in the face of the community. Again, more information is needed. I’m all for free speech, but I just wish liberals were… Read more »
DJ Zhuge Meng
Guest
Samantha do a little homework first. “this may be a case of liberal publications trolling public property in an attempt to get their bs in the face of the community”. This newspaper is far from being liberal, it is conservative. Should we institute segregation of newspapers? Newspapers we agree with get to be on Public Property, newspapers we disagree with, must be on private property. I’d buy a corner store next to the city hall install something as close to a jumbotron as the codes allow and display specific articles from the paper on them 24/7 using solar energy. Allow… Read more »
Samantha
Guest

I meant to say they never give that courtesy to conservatives, not liberals. Anyhow, my point stands, I think there is more to this story.

LN_Smithee
Guest
This is similar to what happened decades ago in San Francisco when a little-known free gay-themed tabloid, in criticism of then-SFPD police chief Richard Hongisto’s declaration of martial law in response to street protests, published an unflattering caricature of him wielding a policeman’s baton as if he was pleasuring himself. (The caption was “Dick’s Cool New Tool: Martial Law.”) The morning after the issue hit newsstands, police vehicles were observed collecting the issues out of the street racks all over town. When the confiscation of the issue was linked to people under Hongisto, they tried to CYA by claiming that… Read more »
Bridgette Shealy
Guest

wow….just wow. Please run, Mr. West.

The_Patriot
Guest

Assault on the Constitution by tyrannical government is the rule of the day under barry. The local government feels that if barry can get away with it they can also.
It is disgusting and reprehensible. A clear violation of Free Speech. I can see this being appealed to the SCOTUS by either party

John Broom
Guest
going back to 2010 it looks like the CCS is a pretty common sense conservative voice… http://www.ccsense.com/2010/12/election-recap.html In that vein, we’d like to raise the following issues that our readers, friends and families think are important and areas deserving of your attention: Stop pursuing building or purchasing a new City Hall. You don’t need one and we don’t want one. Please stop wasting our tax dollars on lobbyists and grant writing. There is no such thing as “free” money. Taxpayers pay for all sides of grants as well as salaries for staff and lobbyists to obtain them. Establish San Juan… Read more »
linedancer2
Guest
John you said it for all of us….thank you…..wouldn’t it be interesting to be a fly on the wall at any Gov. meeting? Especially the White House!! Can you imagine what they call us behind our backs, maybe ‘let the peon’s pay for the elite”…They are laughing all the way to their banks, and golf courses….How do we get thru to the young people…. WE PAY THE GOV. THEIR WAGES WITH OUR TAX MONEY MOST OF US ARE NOT MAKING NEAR WHAT THEY MAKE….I’M TOO OLD NOW YOU YOUNG FOLKS HAVE GOT TO WISE UP Your generation is going to… Read more »
Jane
Guest

I’m in North OC and SJC is South County, hadn’t heard of this, it feels wrong.

Whatever
Guest

Go to the Patch (online) or OC Register (M Cuniff has written on this), or ccsense.com itself.
This is wrong, but the story is sadly true.

Ollie
Guest
If you can read this then you know we can cut short a few words, especially when using twitter 140 words only! lol fi yuo cna raed tihs, yuo hvae a sgtrane mnid too. Cna yuo raed tihs? OLNY 55% of pliope can… I cdnuolt bleveiee taht I cloud aulacity uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno’t mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can… Read more »
sherry8260
Guest

This is why we CaliCons want our state divided. We have been working long and hard to defeat the Nazi’s running our state, cheating their way into office, electing left leaning judges – and doing crap like this. Please help us separate so we Calicons (most of us native before the liberals wormed their way in) can govern *ourselves* and live a peaceful life out from beneath the nazi boots on our necks!! The petition is being written as we speak…please watch for it, everyone sign it. PLEASE!!!!

ranchracer
Guest
Agreed. But at the same time the current proposal to split the state is written by a Silicon Valley millionaire. it is NOT the solution. There are already three county board of supervisors in the northernmost part of the state that have declared their intent, in writing, to form a 51st state made up of the majority of the counties north of Sacramento, with efforts underway in several other counties to put forth the same declarations. The farming and ranching communities with ZERO say in California government, because our votes haven’t mattered one iota for years thanks to Reynolds vs.… Read more »
linedancer2
Guest

You hit the nail on the head….we need more folks like you to take this mess away…I feel sorry for the next President….he/she will have a nightmare to straighten out……so let’s be more careful when voting….watch out for lies that will be told about someone we like…..remember, all it takes is someone to spread a rumor and people will believe it……BE CAREFUL THIS TIME…NO BUSLOADS OF FREELOADERS ….NO DEAD PEOPLE ALLOWED TO VOTE.. WATCH THE POLLS….

Jeffroe Bodine
Guest

I’m an OC native. Once the center of agriculture…is now a culture of liberal corruption. Supervisor Pat Bates (Rino) and her husband John Bates are implementing Agenda21 through assistance and guidance from San Francisco transplants. SNAFU!!

Jeffroe Bodine
Guest

Watch out!!!… she’s running for Senate

sweetie
Guest

Our rights are being take away from us, one at a time. First, starting with little things, then things more apparent to us citizens, and now coming down from the government. I don’t feel like I live in American anymore, and that makes me sad.

David King
Guest

Desperation. They know their time is running out.

Mike
Guest

Our Rights are being taken BECAUSE WE ARE LETTING THEM!!

As we go about our Lives just working and paying bills the Government has a full on assault on our Liberties and we just let them do it.

I don’t want to hear a thing from anyone about how they are TAKING OUR RIGHTS!

WE ARE LETTING THEM DO IT!!!

Tom Winegar
Guest

I agree and constantly ask people to forget about their new cars and place at the lake for a few minutes each day and pay attention…………..and oh yea, their dang ball games too.

Lyle g
Guest

Like Sodom and Gomorrah, so too with California…. Earthquakes and sliding off into the ocean. ….

Tom Winegar
Guest

And it would be mostly God fearing Conservatives ponying up most of the relief money if it did.

liberalssuck
Guest

This is unacceptable. I see very bad things coming down the pipe. How long until the we reach a breaking point?

Terry T
Guest

An unlawful order is just that; unlawful and shall not be enforced. Hope the OC Sheriff is unable to sleep at night for breach of ethics and the US Constitution.

Musing Mel
Guest

Uhhh, what does the OC Sheriff have to do with this story??

Community Common Sense
Guest
Community Common Sense
The OC Sheriff sent TWO plainclothes detectives to the home of one of our volunteers the day after he placed some of our papers at the city’s Community Center. The detectives claimed he was now “under investigation for threatening a city employee”. The employee claimed he “felt threatened” (not was threatened, but “felt” threatened) when our volunteer told the employee not to throw the papers away or remove them, or there would be “consequences”. The volunteer, a retired truck driver, said he doesn’t even use words like “consequences”; he said he told the employee that there would be “trouble” because… Read more »
Midwest Import
Guest

LOL
I doubt it….they may even be in on things.
I believe the OC Sheriff Union recently made a donation to protect one of these councilmen from recall.

ItsOrangeCounty_NotOC
Guest
ItsOrangeCounty_NotOC

Will you people stop calling it “The OC” or “OC”. I empathize with much of the comments here, but you’re throwing out all credibility out the door by calling our area a name that a crappy FOX teen drama decided to rename as “The OC”. You don’t call it “The LA” and no one called it “OC” before the show. It’s Orange County. I’m a big fan of LtCol West so I’m not trolling, I’m simply commenting on the fact that by calling it “OC” you sound ignorant.

Ollie
Guest

Orange County is crappy, I’ve been there and seen it first hand! lol

Ollie
Guest

wtf, bty, tml, FBI, CIA, DHS, ICE, this is the way thing are btw! from TN, you CA? Do your really expect people to spell out every single word? NGTH!

Tom Winegar
Guest

Way too much abbreviation going on in the name of expediency…….but then I’m an OCD’er and obsess to type everything out in detail anyway.

Stoned_Conservative
Guest

Politicians should be used to grease the tracks of Abrams Tanks, and BFV. (See George Patton comment on using Germans to grease the tracks of his tanks.)

Kathy LaPlant
Guest
Voltaire: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” The motivation behind the 1st Amendment. Without criticism of our government, our government will go unchecked and walk all over us. Why is our Constitution being challenged so much lately? Just because a paper puts forth an opinion does not mean that all those who read it agree with it. We are a free people and God willing, we will remain free. Just let the paper be. If you don’t agree with what it says, put forth your case and refute… Read more »
Michael
Guest

And where is the ACLU? Hiding?

kel
Guest

I’m thinking the ACLU is loving this.

Michael
Guest

Yeah but they are suppose to be at the forefront to protect citizens from this type of government interference.

ski
Guest
What is happening in Orange County, California is not a new problem at all. It is happening all over the country whether it is banding or limiting access to publications, limiting your time to respond to a problem or suggest a solution while giving the opposition all the time they want or recording public meetings or denial of access to meetings by labeling as dealing with personal. These are just a few of the examples of what both liberal and conservative bodies employ to stop and denie public impute. You see this being done on a daily basis in either… Read more »
Wendy Dietze
Guest

These politicians don’t get it. The Press is the watch dog of our government. They are suppose to criticize them. That is how we keep them in line. I hope the people of Orange county have the sense to file suit of breech of oath and unconstitutional laws.

Midwest Import
Guest

You’re correct, Wendy, the media/press have a vital watchdog role and we must stand to support it for the sake of our freedoms.
The newspaper filed suit. Judge deCerisse (sp?) ordered CCS back. It is the only newsstand at the properties. Other publications saving their money and watching it play out.
Judge to revisit case March 6.
In the meantime, these councilmen run amok are wasting the taxpayer’s hard earned money by paying to support this ridiculous action.
Sure would be nice if there was some press there to cover the event March 6.

ChocolateGirl2
Guest

The ends justify the means! They don’t care!

edster48
Guest

While I left So. Cal 36 years ago and I’m glad I no longer live there, this saddens me. I grew up in that area and my Dad still owns a home there. It wasn’t like this back in the day. Probably why my Dad moved away. Sad to see what CA has become.

RummRunner
Guest

Who cares what happens in California? Really, this is the same state that continually gives us Pelosi, Feinstein and Boxer or as I like to say, The Three Stooges. Question, weren’t these people elected? They’re getting exactly what they deserve.

Jeff Crumley
Guest
California is a big place… the three wicked witches from the west are in San Francisco Bay area… where the bowl of granola(fruits, nuts & flakes) runs deep and wide. This is the epicenter of Agenda21 and entitlement that has been exacerbated by the enviro high-jacking, green-washing and fleecing of the libtards that migrated here from the east coast. California used to be sparsely populated with vast agriculture and a good conservative balance. This is not a right-left thing…this is a green-red thing and the ignorant must be informed. It starts with comfortable ignorance, a necessary ingredient for propaganda; then… Read more »
Unhappy
Guest

But they lie to the people by spinning the truth, unfortunately most Americans are not educated in politics so they believe all the BS that feed to them. However I do agree with you about re electing the officials in office.Americans need to get involved in politics so the next time they go to the polls at least have an idea who you are electing. Do homework on the politicians who are on the ballot. Period.

aemoreira81
Guest

Slippery slope…if it can be upheld in a Circuit Court, it can happen anywhere. The 9th Circuit isn’t just California.

RummRunner
Guest

I hear you but remember, 80% of the rulings by the ninth circus are over turned.

97E
Guest

Hah! Ninth Circus! Thanks, I needed the laugh.

Aidan Richard Wood
Guest

I care… if allowed to stand in a court (even a California court) it sets a precedent that other courts around the country would be obligated to follow.

RummRunner
Guest

The Ninth Circus Court is a joke. 80% of their rulings are eventually over turned by grown ups.

Carrie Geren Scoggins
Guest
Carrie Geren Scoggins
Democrats with a badge doing this to us here in TN! DEMOCRATS WITH A BADGE RUIN MY LIFE, ANTI CHRISTIAN HATE FROM LIBERALS IN OFFICE STALKING US, HARASSING US, STEALING OUR JOBS, AND RUINING OUR NAMES! MY CIVIL RIGHTS VIOLATED 3: CARRIE GEREN SCOGGINS POLITICAL NEWSLETTER http://youtu.be/J5c2QEZ2bOU DEMOCRATS USING GOVERNMENT OFFICES TO HARASS, ILLEGALLY CENSOR, STALK DOWN, AND TRY TO TAKE DOWN, CHRISTIAN RELIGIOUS RIGHT / TEA PARTY / REPUBLICANS! THE LAWSUITS AGAINST NSA AND IRS, IS JUST THE BEGINNING OF THE LAST 25 YEARS OF THIS BEING BROUGHT TO LIGHT! NSA SUED BY RAND PAUL IN CLASS ACTION SUIT… Read more »
Carrie Geren Scoggins
Guest
Carrie Geren Scoggins

MY CIVIL RIGHTS VIOLATED 3: CARRIE GEREN

SCOGGINS POLITICAL NEWSLETTER

http://youtu.be/J5c2QEZ2bOU

akatom3565
Guest

Easier to cover up lies with suppression than wishful thinking!

American-By-Choice
Guest

Relativism… You tolerated it and now IT OWNS YOU!

charlieholmes
Guest

Friggin’ idiots. WHo lets them breed, anyway?

Fox
Guest
I live in San Juan Capistrano- I grew up here- California is a hotbed of civic corruption and waste. We do have a noble District Rep. Issa (R), though he is a minority I’m afraid. It is like living behind enemy lines here, where the law resembles something more like collective anarchy. Elected, and employed law enforcement toes the line, in regard to liberal extremes. The Democrats run this state. Between Chicago, New York, and 95% of California, there seems no end to the damage they are capable of. They do not value the country the same way conservatives do,… Read more »
Community Common Sense
Guest
Community Common Sense

You’re right Fox. There are bad people on both sides of the aisel though. That’s one of the reasons we started the paper; to report honestly and factually on the actions – not just the words – of local elected leaders. Voting records are very revealing – politicians can’t run from them. We research and report on these and other documented actions. Thus we got banned. Someone told me to take it as a compliment; we must be doing something right!

Community Common Sense
Guest
Community Common Sense
Thank you Col. West, for shining light on our situation out here in California. As the editor of the banned newspaper, I appreciate the opportunity to share with your readers how important it is to keep fighting, especially when protecting something as fundamental as our constitutional right to free speech. Unfortunately, you got it right; as a watchdog newspaper, we have been targeted for simply reporting the truth about the actions of elected leaders and government officials. As a result, our advertisers have been threatened and our paper subjected to harassment and numerous, on-going attempts to intimidate us into silence.… Read more »
D. Brown
Guest

I honestly can’t imagine a judge would side with the council. I hope the judge humiliates them all. Is the O.C. Register covering this story since it’s paper would’ve also been banned. Clearly the council members are power mongers, and rather thinned skinned.

D. Brown
Guest

I honestly can’t imagine a judge would side with the council. I hope the judge humiliates them all. Is the O.C. Register covering this story since its paper would’ve also been banned. Clearly the council members are power mongers, and rather thinned skinned.

Community Common Sense
Guest
Community Common Sense

D. Brown- The other papers in town have remained oddly silent about this issue. They apparently prefer to sit back and let us fight the fight for them. One of them placed their newsrack back at City Hall next to ours, following the judge’s ruling but have not offered to help. So be it. We’re doing it because it’s the right thing to do.

MotherBatherick
Guest

For now, California is still a part of the United States of America. Whether they like it or not, their state and local officials need to start acting like they are.

DJ Zhuge Meng
Guest

Being a Southern California resident. I am not shocked at this nor at their attempts to confuse the public with their double-speak. I have the right to express myself without fear of reprisal. Changes to I have the right to express myself without verbal reprisal. In the future when one or most of them get voted out of office (if possible) they will try to rule the elections as invalid because it was a violation of their 1st amendment rights.

t
Guest

Recall the communist, socialists and fascists trying to destroy this nation and our constitution!

blackDog
Guest

City Councils and locale government are completely out of control in this state. You only need to look at the City of Bell and what their City Council got away with a couple of years ago. If the feds did a through investigation of local officials in this state there would be a building boom in prisons.

MotherBatherick
Guest

And the Commies who voted them in can join them. Since they seem to be in to communal living..

Libertarian1911
Guest

Regardless of which side is being suppressed it is still a violation of the First Amendment.

Frosted Mini Cracker
Guest

Who is suppressing the city council?

LT714RET
Guest

Welcome to the Hotel Crazifornia, You can check out any time you want, but you can never leave!

Frosted Mini Cracker
Guest

I think we can leave. If we have anchor babies in Texas or other safe places. (Are they any?)

Sailing J
Guest

lol you don’t have to have an anchor baby. Just move. You’ll be a resident of Texas in I think 30 or 60 days.

MotherBatherick
Guest

A lot of them (and I do mean A LOT of them) need to check out.

David F. Podesta
Guest

The voters need to remember these outrageous moves. The imbeciles in public office need to be ousted. Maybe the next gang will learn the lesson.

wrksnfx
Guest

RECALL THE S.O.B.S!

pearl87
Guest

Are the City Council members at SJC liberal or conservative? What are the policies that CCS is critical of and the council is trying to keep from public scrutiny? These issues are part of the story, so I think this article needs to give more info. Though I believe that, whatever the political leanings of the council are, the 1st Amendment rights of the paper are being violated, still the questions remain.

marty klipple
Guest

Apparebtly

Richard StJohn
Guest

The freedom of the press is absolute. It is the only profession protected by the US Constitution. I don’t care what the politics of either side are. Elected officials have a job to do and as such their performance is subject to criticism. Any attempt to silence that criticism is in direct violation of the First Amendment and will likely be used as a model by the Obama Administration.

Community Common Sense
Guest
Community Common Sense
In answer to the question about what we report that has so incensed the council majority of three that they banned us, the answer is: the truth. Much of our focus is on wasteful government spending. As a watchdog newspaper, we see our role as informing the community about the issues that impact their lives (and their wallets). We take the time to do the homework that most busy residents don’t have time to do. You can paste this address into your web browser to view past issues of our paper online to get a flavor of what is so… Read more »
Community Common Sense
Guest
Community Common Sense

I just realized you can click the link to read the paper -much easier! Thanks Col. West!

borderraven
Guest

City council is government and as such cannot file suit to harm free speech of the people governed. BTW–What relief is the city seeking? No relief, no case. CA Code of Civil Procedures 425.17. and 425.18.

Scott Snoopy
Guest

liberal progressive Socialist Communist Utopian Marxists—SCUM cannot accept the fact that people do not like them or their policies. They fear if the people voice opinions, the sheeple who vote for them will wake-up and vote them out.