Friday, March 27, 2009

Public speaker's First Amendment suit rebuffed

In an unpublished decision released today, the Appellate Division affirmed a trial court's dismissal of Doris Lin's First Amendment case against the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders. The decision is on-line here.

Lin filed suit after the Freeholders ordered her to stop speaking during the public comment portion of their August 25, 2005 meeting. Freeholder Director Thomas Powers told Lin that she was "out of line" when she asked three Freeholders whether they defended former Freeholder director Harry Larrison Jr. who, according to the Asbury Park Press, was "brought up on corruption charges before he died in May 2005." According to the decision, Lin's out of line statement was "So I ask you now, publicly and on the record, Freeholders Barham, Narozanick and Powers, do you condemn corrupt officials and praise the US Attorney's Office, or do you stand by your defense of Harry Larrison?"

In its decision, the Appellate Division recognized that "[t]he Government must abstain from regulating speech when the specific motivating ideology or the opinion or perspective of the speaker is the rationale for the restriction." But the court held that the Freeholders' silencing of Lin "did not constitute viewpoint discrimination." The court also found that the Freeholders were entitled to qualified immunity

John Paff
Somerset, New Jersey

No comments:

Post a Comment