Yolo County, CA — The government censoring Americans for voicing their opinions is a clear violation of First Amendment rights.
Yet, that’s what the staff of the Yolo County Public Library did at an event organized by the local chapter of Moms for Liberty.
Yesterday, the Institute for Free Speech and the Alliance Defending Freedom filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Moms for Liberty (M4L) and several other California civic organizations and individuals, challenging the unconstitutional actions of Yolo County Public Library officials. The suit argues that the library’s policies and practices violate First Amendment free speech rights by discriminating based on viewpoint.
The case stems from a “Forum on Fair and Safe Sports for Girls” event organized by M4L in August to discuss the issue of biological males competing in female sports. M4L paid to reserve public space in the library for the event. However, Library Regional Manager Scott Love invited disruptive protesters to the event and then shut down the Forum almost immediately after it began.
He did so on the grounds that event participants were “misgendering,” and informed speakers that referring to “transgender females” as “males” or stating that “men” are participating in women’s sports would cause him to shut down the event. After participants continued using his disfavored terms and persisted in discussing their view that men are, in fact, competing in women’s sports, Love made good on his threat to shut down the forum.
In addition to ending the August event after just a few minutes, Yolo County librarians have actively organized opposition to plaintiffs’ events, directed protestors to attend meetings, failed to stop repeated disruptions, and contacted law enforcement to urge action against the speakers to make it difficult for the plaintiffs to use library meeting rooms.
“Americans have the right to speak on matters of public concern without fear that government employees will censor them for doing so,” explained Institute for Free Speech Vice President for Litigation Alan Gura. “Yolo County officials encouraged their ideological allies to disrupt speakers whose opinions they reject, and they actively censor speech that doesn’t match their own views. We expect this case will reaffirm every American’s First Amendment right to freely share ideas in public spaces.”
“Public officials cannot shut down speech they don’t like,” noted Tyson Langhofer, senior counsel and director of the Center for Academic Freedom with Alliance Defending Freedom. “The organizers of this event have every right to express their concern regarding men in women’s sports, and library staff wrongly shut down the event. We urge the court to uphold the constitutionally protected freedoms of our clients.”
The lawsuit seeks injunctions against continued enforcement of the library’s unconstitutional policies and practices, both generally and against the plaintiff organizations and individuals.
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.