Brechner First Amendment Project Joins Amicus Brief in California
The Marion B. Brechner First Amendment Project, along with the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties, the Cato Institute and several other organizations, filed a friend-of-the-court brief on Sept. 4, 2015 with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in California. The brief focuses on a case involving limitations imposed by a judge on the First Amendment rights of an individual as part of the conditions for his supervised release from prison. The issue is whether the limitations on speech that are part of the supervision conditions violate Darren Chaker’s First Amendment rights.
The district court punished Darren Chaker because he published a statement concerning the professional history and performance of a public official. Specifically, Mr. Chaker wrote that Ms. Leesa Fazel, an investigator with the Nevada Office of the Attorney General, had previously been “forced out” of the Las Vegas Police Department. True or false, that statement is classic political speech subject to the highest level of First Amendment protection. After his sentencing in Texas, a condition of Mr. Chaker’s supervised release was that he “may not stalk and/or harass other individuals, to include, but not limited to, posting personal information of others or defaming a person’s character on the internet.”
According to Clay Calvert, director of the Marion B. Brechner First Amendment Project, “this case raises an important First Amendment issue about how far judges can go in restricting the political speech rights of people as a condition of their release from prison. Granted, those released from prison are not always the most sympathetic people, but they still retain some constitutional guarantees. In this case, the district court judge simply issued too broad of an order restricting the individual’s right of free expression. The case is now in the hands of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to sort out.”