CSG Colorado Hearing to be rescheduled following election

UPDATE: The hearing set for tomorrow in Denver, Colo. has been vacated. According to the order issued by Senior Judge John Kane:

“Plaintiff’s requests for preliminary and permanent injunctive relief were consolidated and are set for a full-day trial/hearing tomorrow, Friday, September 21, 2012. Given the unlikelihood proponents of a ‘personhood’ amendment will salvaged for the Colorado state ballot in time for the 2012 election cycle, the impetus for the very expedited timeframe under which this case has been operating has relaxed enough to warrant the more thorough approach afforded by certifying certain important and threshold questions to the Colorado Supreme Court. Accordingly, tomorrow’s hearing is VACATED, to be reset at a later date.”

Washington, D.C.-based Center for Competitive Politics will be in court tomorrow morning in Denver, Colorado defending the grassroots group Coalition for a Secular Government (CSG). The CCP legal team, led by Legal Director Allen Dickerson, filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Colorado on behalf of CSG. The question raised by the First Amendment lawsuit is whether Colorado can force small educational groups to register with the state before expressing an opinion on or publishing an analysis of a ballot question. The case will be heard at 9:30 am before Senior Judge John Kane in the Alfred A. Arraj United States Courthouse A838 / Courtroom A802.

Colorado resident Diana Hsieh, a doctor of philosophy, organized the non-profit CSG together with her friend Ari Armstrong in order to promote a secular understanding of individual rights, including freedom of conscience and the separation of church and state. Because of unconstitutionally vague state laws, confusion as to what constitutes political speech and what is covered under a press exemption, and a refusal by the state to abide by a federal court order, Hsieh and CSG have found it nearly impossible to carry out the activities of a small non-profit group without fear of running afoul of complex Colorado campaign finance laws.

Dickerson and the CCP legal team filed a complaint alleging that, even though Diana and CSG plan to raise no more than $3,500, nearly all of which will go toward updating and disseminating an expanded and updated copy of their public policy paper, the state of Colorado appears to demand that CSG register as an issue committee, with all the paperwork burdens and restrictions that status entails. Dickerson notes that this is unconstitutional under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and burdensome, particularly for a small group seeking only to exercise their right to speak.

“No group that spends very little money, and whose principal product is a policy white paper, should need the state’s permission to speak,” said Dickerson.  “Despite good intentions, Colorado’s voters approved laws with that unreasonable and unconstitutional result.  We hope this suit will give the federal courts an opportunity to protect CSG and other vulnerable, grassroots speakers.”

CCP plans on calling Diana Hsieh to the witness stand. Should you like to attend or interview Dickerson, please contact Sarah Lee, CCP Communications Director by replying to this email or calling 770.598.7961.




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The Center for Competitive Politics is now the Institute for Free Speech.