On to the Supreme Court
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals confirmed its mixed news verdict for us today, by affirming there is ample evidence Claremont engaged in First Amendment Retaliation and that we may be entitled to recovery of our legal fees…
“..the panel held that the plaintiffs had established a prima facie case of retaliation against the School defendants that could survive summary judgment. The panel held that there was no dispute that Riley engaged in expressive conduct, that some of the School defendants took an adverse action against Riley’s Farm that caused it to lose a valuable government benefit and that those defendants were motivated to cancel the business relationship because of Riley’s expressive conduct. The panel also held that there was sufficient evidence that the Board members had the requisite mental state to be liable for damages for the ongoing constitutional violation…”
This means that when the case goes back to the district court, we have a strong chance of making the district pay for all of our legal costs.
Unfortunately, because of the doctrine of qualified immunity, the Ninth Circuit has barred us from seeking compensatory and punitive damages. In practice “qualified immunity” for the government, in many cases, means that the government can run over your rights all day long without penalty. Clarence Thomas has indicated, of late, that qualified immunity may make some sense when a police officer has to make a split second decision about deadly force, but it makes much less sense when agencies have time to consider the consequences of their actions.
During discovery, we established that Claremont had only received one complaint about our venue, and that was from a parent who didn’t even have a child attending one of our field trips. Yes, there were media stories, but only one Claremont parent actually acted on them. In response, Claremont simply terminated a two decade relationship with us and barred hundreds of their students from a living history experience they had come to love – because one parent recoiled at my ridiculing Louis Farrakhan and Stormy Daniels – on my own time, as a private citizen.
A lot of our case centers on “disruption.” If agencies fear that First Amendment speech might “disrupt” the learning or working environment they can retaliate against the employees, or contractors, who create that disruption. We have already provided undisputed evidence that political speech created no real disruption, but..
We can’t help registering a great irony here..
Years ago, our own school district approved the “Impressions” text book series, which de-emphasized phonetic language instruction and employed occultic razzle-dazzle to interest young readers, (“pick your witch name”).
Over a thousand parents crowded the board room and threatened to take their children out of school. No matter the disruption, the text book salesmen still made the sale. His “valuable government benefit” was protected, even if the community nearly went to war over it. Anyone who opposed the text book series, moreover, doing any business with the district was threatened by the head of the teacher’s union, (who was later sentenced to a long jail term for child molestation.) The idea that these agencies actually care about “disruption” is absurd. They will endure massive disruption in defense of this season’s cause-du-jour or teaching-methodology fad.
The owner of a living history farm could probably tweet explicit pictures of gender re-assignment surgery and even find some way of featuring it in a field trip context, and the contract would be honored no matter how many parents were upset. Ontario Claremont actually asked me to feature gay and cross-dressing miners in our Gold Rush field trip. Progressive fads are protected no matter how outrageous they might be. But if you wonder, on your own time, if “more than two genders” is a kind of joke, then BAM. Lose your public agency business.
What gives here?
Over the four years we have been involved in this litigation, we keep marveling, morbidly, that our case has never been taken before a jury. We always assumed “summary dismissal” and “summary judgment” were extremely rare victories for a legal class trying to keep the real facts from real people.
We also can’t help drawing parallels between the current political reality and the Salem Witch Trials. (It’s spooky how history repeats itself.) Most folks live in fear of being called a “racist” these days just as most folks in 1690s Salem knew how dangerous it was to be called a “witch.” When we give accusers unlimited power to be believed, no matter how much evidence there is to the contrary, we consign ourselves to a tyranny of paranoid misfits. Is that the world you choose to live in?
I have the strong sense I should take this to the Supreme Court. What do you think?
If you agree, consider helping.
Categorised in: Blacklisted
This post was written by Jim Riley