District Judge Jesus Bernal, an Obama era appointee, granted Claremont’s motion for summary judgment yesterday, declaring that no injunctive relief is due Riley’s Farm, since Claremont Unified was effectively forced to officially declare us an approved site for field trips. You can read our opposition to the motion here, and Judge Bernal’s response here.
Injunctive relief, in our case, would have meant that Claremont, and potentially other school districts, might have faced court penalties for engaging in acts of overt First Amendment retaliation, (i.e. “cancel culture.”) Some of you may not be aware, but even during the middle of our court battle, a Claremont school teacher attempted to book a field trip here, but was mysteriously restrained from doing so.
In 2018, when I ridiculed the racist antisemite Louis Farrakhan, I was stunned to find Claremont effectively running to the defense of genocide with such passion they cancelled a two decade tradition of attending our American History field trips. I also ridiculed Stormy Daniels and David Hogg, and even though that ridicule is appreciated by a majority of Americans, even though this expression was never included in our educational programs, a left-leaning political orthodoxy had to be vindicated. The same school district that was led by a board member who invited students to an all male burlesque Christmas party gave up on American history at Riley’s Farm.
If you are new to federal litigation, you might be surprised to know that it has taken nearly five years for the courts to decide if we even get a trial. If it is left up to Bernal, we don’t. Our sense is–like the last time this happened–if we appeal this to the Ninth Circuit, Bernal will be overturned again, but he obviously knows how expensive that effort would be. Sloppy legal thinking is very costly to correct.
We have a few weeks to decide if that is worth the effort, or the expense. Were I to win the lottery tomorrow, I would throw everything I have into making them litigate as long as possible, since nothing is more frightening to me than a civil service dictatorship declaring which opinions might cost you your job. Even as a private employer, I hire people of widely diverse opinions and I would never dream of penalizing those employees for their political convictions. The government has an even higher burden on that front, and unless we make cancel culture expensive for them, they will go right on cancelling. We could be looking at America where you can’t be a teacher, or a police officer, or a vendor to a school district unless you agree to totally forfeit your First Amendment rights. Sound good to you?
At this point, we would need a very substantial benefactor to help us win the kind of victory that we set out to win – not just for ourselves, but for everyone who still believes in an America where we are free to speak the truth. I have already given far more than I can afford, as have our attorneys. Claremont has made a show of restoring Riley’s Farm to their list of approved field trip vendors and wants that to be the end of the story. Absurdly, they’re both claiming they never blacklisted us – and pinky-promising never to do it again. But that leaves them free to keep right on doing what they did to us:
Ignore the First Amendment. Go along with the latest cancel culture campaign. They know most people can’t or won’t fight back. And when someone does – bleed them white with years of litigation, and when they start to lose, just say “never mind” and pretend nothing ever happened.
It’s cynical as hell – but they’ll keep doing it as long as they can get away with it.
A few thoughts about those blessed enough, materially, to fight..
Over the nearly five years we have been fighting in the courts against public schools engaged in cancel culture, we’ve had hundreds of donors who give what they can–some of them sacrificially. One fellow who is by no means wealthy wrote us a check for $10,000. We have received $5 gifts from single moms and $500 gifts from successful professionals who are good stewards of their resources, and they have to balance their giving across a lot of very good causes. What I have to say here is not about all of the people who need to work for a living, the way we do here on the farm. We are endlessly grateful for those who took the time to help us.
I would like to talk, for a moment, about someone I don’t even know. If I knew who you were, I would give you a call. I have a feeling you are out there. You are a lot more than just comfortable. Without even feeling it, you could write a $250,000 check to Freedom X and keep Bill Becker working on our case until the opposition backed down, and our case was made, not just in the courts, but in the court of public opinion. The word would get out: STOP terminating public servants and vendors like Riley’s Farm because of “unapproved” political expression. Stop placating the social justice weirdos in your organization who scream the loudest.
As an aside, on that front, want to hear something strange? I have been told, by people on the inside, that even the opposing counsel in some of our cases, and the public school civil servants opposing us, actually share my political perspective. Lawyers, as we all know, are paid to be advocates, so that is understandable. The average lawyer doesn’t enjoy helping his client cripple the First Amendment. But many public school superintendents are too afraid to oppose the most militant members of their staff and their community. Most teachers love Riley’s Farm, but they live in fear of being called “transphobic,” by a crusading weirdo mom who sends her ten year old boy to school in a dress.
Enter you, sir, and your treasure. Enter you, ma’am, and your blessings. You could write out a check, a massive check, that would make people like Justice Bernal scratch his head and say, “well, damn, they keep calling my bluff.” Your check — your courage and sacrifice — would inspire a lot more gifts by a lot of people who would take heart by your example.
The other day Elon Musk told an interviewer he didn’t mind losing money if he told the truth and spoke his mind. We haven’t had wealthy men like that since George Washington and Benjamin Franklin. Remember when the super-wealthy risked it all?
Are you one of them?Bernal, Blacklisted, First Amendment
This post was written by Jim Riley