Thursday, November 29, 2018
Republican Club Sues Western Justice Center, City of Pasadena Over Effort to Block Speech
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Retired Superior Court Judge
Professor of Law
The Pasadena Republican Club yesterday sued the Western Justice Center and the City of Pasadena in federal court for acting in an effort to thwart the holding of a meeting at which John Eastman, the Henry Salvatori professor of law at Chapman University and former dean of the law school, was to speak, allegedly as the result of political and religious discrimination.
The Western Justice Center, a non-profit organization, manages property owned by the City of Pasadena, including the historic Maxwell House in Old Town. The center rents the house for weddings and other purposes and has rented it in the past to the Pasadena Republican Club, which complaint describes as the “oldest continuously active Republican Club in America,” which was “founded in 1884 by Colonel Jabez Banbury, one of the early settlers of Pasadena.”
Last year, the complaint sets forth, the Republican Club paid $190 for use of the house for a meeting to be held on April 20, starting at 6:30 p.m. At 3:45 p.m. on the day of the meeting was to take place, it is alleged, retired Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Judith Chirlin, executive director of the Western Justice Center, sent an email to the club’s president, Lynn Gabriel, cancelling the event.
“While I knew that Prof Eastman was a professor and author, we learned just today that he is the President of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM). NOM’s positions on same-sex marriage, gay adoption, and transgender rights are antithetical to the values of the Western Justice Center.…WJC works to improve campus climates with a special focus on LGBT bias and bullying. We work to make sure that people recognize and stop LGBT bullying. Through these efforts we have built a valuable reputation in the community, and allowing your event in our facility would hurt our reputation in the community.”
(Eastman is chairman of the bnoard of NOM, not its president.)
The complaint declares:
“The National Organization for Marriage is a national organization that works to defend marriage and the faith communities that sustain it at the local, state, and national levels. The ideals of the organization are rooted in both social science and the religious beliefs of its members. The organization advocates for marriage as a relationship between one man and one woman in the courts and before the legislative bodies at the local, state, and national level. It does not advocate bias of any type and it does not engage in bullying.”
Action Termed Unconstitutional
It goes on to allege:
“By canceling this event at the last minute solely because they disagreed with the political and religious beliefs of the Speaker, Chirlin and WESTERN JUSTICE CENTER acted with malice, oppression, and wanton disregard of the law, intending to harm PASADENA REPUBLICAN CLUB and its members for choosing a speaker who harbored beliefs contrary to those promoted by WESTERN JUSTICE CENTER. These actions constitute willful and wanton misconduct. As a retired California Judge. Chirlin is presumably aware of the provisions of the United States Constitution and was therefore aware that the action she took on behalf of the WESTERN JUSTICE CENTER was unconstitutional.”
“Further, the Board of the WESTERN JUSTICE CENTER includes judges of the United States District Court for the Central District of California and the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, who likewise are aware of the provisions of the United States Constitution and know that discrimination on the basis of political viewpoint and religious belief in the rental oi public property violates the United States Constitution unless supported by s compelling governmental interest. WESTERN JUSTICE CENTER’S hatred of contrary political viewpoints and religious beliefs is not a compelling governmental interest.”
The meeting did take place, but was shifted to the University Club, which charged $500 for use of its facility. Gabriel, the complaint says, was obliged to stand in front of the Maxwell House, directing club members to the new venue, resulting in her missing the meeting, and attendance being unusually light.
The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, alleges viewpoint discrimination and religious-belief discrimination, in violation of 42 USC §1983, and a conspiracy to deny civil rights, in violation of 42 U.S.C. §1985.
Representing the club is Anthony T. Caso, a professor of constitutional law at Chapman, acting for the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence, of which Eastman was founding director.
Eastman resigned as dean of Chapman’s law school in 2010 when he entered the race for the Republican nomination for state attorney, an unsuccessful pursuit.
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