ACLU Sues Board of Supervisors Over Public Comment Interruptions

OC Supervisor Bill Campbell - Photo: Chris Prevatt

The Orange County Board of Supervisors is the target of a lawsuit by the ACLU over their public comment policies. The suit was filed on behalf of William Denis Fitzgerald, an Anaheim resident, who has spoken before the Board on numerous occasions. On August 23, 2011, Fitzgerald’s public comments were interrupted by Chairman Bill Campbell to allow Supervisor Janet Nguyen to object to his disparaging statements about Vietnamese immigrants.

The suit, filed in Federal Court, asks that the County be ordered to revise its commenting policy to ensure that commenters are allowed to comment without interruption regardless of the content of their words.

Voice of OC was the first to report the story here.

 

Claudia Alvarez

Santa Ana Councilwoman Claudia Alvarez (Photo: Chris Prevatt)

I’m not really sure that the Federal Court would have jurisdiction in this matter as the public comment rules the county operates under are covered by the states open meeting law, the Brown Act. I have to wonder why the ACLU finds the interruption of Fitzgerald’s inflammatory comments to be an issue and not the cutting off of a speaker’s microphoneby Santa Ana Mayor Pro Tem Claudia Alvarez last year because he might say something disparaging of Mayor Miguel Pulido. If I am not mistaken, Fitzgerald actually attended the following Santa Ana Council meeting to chastise her actions.

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  6 comments for “ACLU Sues Board of Supervisors Over Public Comment Interruptions

  1. junior
    September 9, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    “I’m not really sure that the Federal Court would have jurisdiction in this matter as the public comment rules the county operates under are covered by the states open meeting law, the Brown Act.”

    The First Amendment to the Constitution would trump the Brown Act.

  2. jose s.
    September 9, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    I love this clip of Claudia Alvarez shutting down mr. Castillo for “personal attacks ” if this isn’t proof of what a filthy swine she is I don’t know what is.

  3. September 9, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    The reason why the ACLU is suing in Federal Court instead of suing in State Court is because the ACLU wishes to concentrate authority at the Federal level. The Brown Act is California legislation; and any desire to clarify California’s Brown Act should be litigated in State Court.

    The ACLU wants the Federal Government to dictate changes in California’s Brown Act.

  4. September 9, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    Constitution doesn’t guarantee uninterrupted speech.

    • Steve
      September 9, 2011 at 5:09 pm

      It does in the US Senate. Apparently.

  5. Bladerunner
    September 12, 2011 at 9:40 pm

    While the Sups should have let Fitzgerald finish his diatribe without interrupting, this hardly seems to merit a federal lawsuit. Nice ready-sue-aim approach by the ACLU.

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