Moms for Liberty Secures Victory for Free Speech in Yolo County

The recently-won settlement ensures that Yolo County (CA) Public Library can’t silence views that conflict with library officials’ ideology

May 14, 2024   •  By IFS Staff   •    •  
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Yolo County, CA — A federal lawsuit filed earlier this year by the Institute for Free Speech and Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) on behalf of Moms for Liberty (M4L) and several other civic organizations and individuals has earned a victory for free speech rights in California.

Attorneys with the Institute and ADF reached a favorable settlement with Yolo County Library officials after those officials violated the First Amendment rights of several women’s groups who met in a local library to discuss the harms of allowing men to participate in women’s sports.

The case stemmed from an August 2023 “Forum on Fair and Safe Sport for Girls” organized by M4L at the Yolo County Public Library. Despite M4L paying to reserve the space, library officials invited disruptive protesters to interfere with the event. The officials then ended the event almost immediately after it began, claiming that participants were “misgendering” by referring to biological males as “males” or stating that “men” are participating in women’s sports.

The lawsuit challenged the unconstitutional actions of the library officials who shut down the event and silenced speakers. In the face of this challenge, the Yolo County Public Library has now relented, agreeing to settle the suit.

Under the settlement, Yolo County has adopted a new Library Meeting Room Policy, Meeting Room Policy Addendum, and Code of Behavior that better protect free speech rights at library events. The library also allowed M4L to reschedule and hold its event without interference. Additionally, it will pay $70,000 in damages and attorneys’ fees to the plaintiffs.

“This settlement is a clear victory for free speech and the First Amendment,” said Institute for Free Speech Vice President for Litigation Alan Gura. “Yolo County officials tried to silence speakers and shut down an event because the ideas expressed there didn’t align with the officials’ preferred ideology. As a result of this lawsuit, Yolo County has now agreed to respect the right of all Americans to freely express their views in public spaces without fear of government censorship.”

“Women have the right to speak about their concerns regarding men competing in their sports, and public officials have a constitutional duty to uphold that right regardless of whether they agree with the point of view presented,” said ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer, director of the ADF Center for Academic Freedom. “While they should never have shut down the event, Yolo County library officials are right to change course and enact policies that align with the First Amendment. We are hopeful other public officials—whether at libraries, schools, or anywhere else—see this as an opportunity to take a strong stance for the speech and assembly rights of all Americans.”

To read more about the case, Moms for Liberty-Yolo County v. Lopez, please see the case page here.

About the Institute for Free Speech

The Institute for Free Speech promotes and defends the political speech rights to freely speak, assemble, publish, and petition the government guaranteed by the First Amendment.

IFS Staff

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