Judge Quickly (But Temporarily) Blocks New CA Law That Takes Away Anonymous Speech Rights

from the quick-response dept

So, we had just written about the unfortunate (if expected) news that voters in California had overwhelmingly passed a ballot measure which (among other things) would take away anonymous speech rights from anyone on the state’s sex offender list (which could include things like people arrested for urinating in public, or consensual sexual activity between teenagers). That seemed both extreme and unconstitutional. We noted that we expected the law to be challenged, though I had assumed it might wait until the law was used. Instead, the EFF and ACLU immediately teamed up to challenge the law, arguing that it was unconstitutional:

“Requiring people to give up their right to speak freely and anonymously about civic matters is unconstitutional, and restrictions like this damage robust discussion and debate on important and controversial topics,” said EFF Staff Attorney Hanni Fakhoury. “When the government starts gathering online profiles for one class of people, we all need to worry about the precedent it sets.”

And… before I could even finish writing about the challenge, the judge issued a temporary restraining order, blocking the implementation of the law.

In this case, the Court finds that Plaintiffs have raised serious questions about whether the challenged sections of the CASE Act violate their First Amendment right to free speech and other constitutional rights. In addition, the balance of hardships tips sharply in favor of issuing a TRO. Defendant Harris’s counsel represented to the Court that the State would be in no position to enforce the law until March 20, 2013. The harm to Defendants of a TRO therefore appears to be minimal. Plaintiffs, by contrast, would suffer the potential loss of their “ability to speak anonymously on the Internet,” which is protected by the First Amendment… Such “loss of First Amendment freedoms . . . unquestionably constitutes irreparable injury.” …. Additionally, the Ninth Circuit has “consistently recognized the ‘significant public interest’ in upholding free speech principles,” …, and that “it is always in the public interest to prevent the violation of a party’s constitutional rights,” ….. The Court therefore finds that Plaintiffs have satisfied the standard for a TRO.

Of course, now the state will need to waste taxpayer money defending this awful part of the law. It would have been nicer if it had never been on the ballot in the first place.

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Comments on “Judge Quickly (But Temporarily) Blocks New CA Law That Takes Away Anonymous Speech Rights”

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Anonymous Coward says:

?????????“take away anonymous speech rights from anyone on the state’s sex offender list”
OK… sounds like a decent idea. Stop pedos being allowed to groom etc…

people on “sex offender list” for pissing in public
people on “sex offender list” for consensual sexual activity between teenagers

WTF is a “sex offender list” ?

no says:

Re: Re:

What do you mean “what is a sex offender list”? It’s a list of people convicted of “sex crimes” (which covers everything from rape and child molestation to taking a leak in an alley behind a bar and a teenage girl having naked photos of herself on her own cell phone) that is made public and searchable by anyone who wants to search — employers, landlords, random people on the internet. You can go to websites and just do a search for people with a sex crime on their record (even inoccuous ones) and find out what they look like, how old they are, what their full name is, what they were convicted of, when they were convicted, and exactly where their house is.

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

One can only assume that the superintendent/principle involved was a seriously kinky individual, if he could even conceive of kicking someone in the shins as being a sexual act.

“Not everyone keeps their genitals in the same place, Captain.” – Martia, Star Trek VI – The Undiscovered Country.

However, I too remember reading it as a groin shot and not a shin.

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 To the two above:

Looks like my memory was faulty once again

Happens all the time to me. I really got to get this memory checked out, as it is occasionally popping checksum errors too.

The point stands though…how does a fight, or any of the other stuff here have to do with a sexual nature, which should be the only thing recorded on a “sex offenders registry.”

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

There was also a case of an elementary school boy kissing a girl on the cheek. SEX OFFENDER.

I am so glad I was a kid 30 years ago. I propositioned a girl to marry me at 6 years old (she was the same age.) She was cute, and a close friend, and I really had no idea what marriage meant at the time, other than knowing my parents were married and it was something that some friends did. I believe the trade for her hand in marriage was a Twinkie. It certainly wasn’t sexual, kids say the darnedest things, and years later I regretted the moment when she used it to make fun of me when I was a teen (sadly, I think she was teasing me because she liked me, but it hurt me at the time, raging hormones and the opposite sex being what they were when you’re a teen.)

I’d probably be locked up for 100 years for that, if I was a kid today and did the same thing.

MrWilson says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

I got married when I was 3 or 4 to the daughter of my parents’ friends in my backyard, but my defense is that we didn’t kiss because we thought that would be gross, so it probably wasn’t binding.

I also remember playing “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours” when I was about 7 with a girl my neighborhood.

I’d be marked for life if more of these zero tolerance idiots had been in charge back then.

I had moved away from where I got married, so luckily my “wife” never found out either…

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re:

> people on “sex offender list” for
> pissing in public

> people on “sex offender list” for consensual
> sexual activity between teenagers

It’s worse than that. The the state supreme court in Georgia granted the state the right to put people on the sex offender registry FOR ANYTHING. You can now be forced to register as a sex offender for life (and have to endure all that goes with it) if you’re convicted of burglary, or embezzlement, or car theft, or literally anything the government feels like.

I’m not saying car thieves ought not to be punished, but WTF?

I guess the government realized how hysterical the soccer moms get the moment anyone is labeled a sex offender and figured the shame alone is a great punishment and deterrent, so they should be able to call anyone a pervert in the interests of justice.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

The primary problems with democracy and anarcho capitalism:
A widespread lack of perfect information.

It is very seldom you see politicians understanding the complete ramifications of laws. It is even more seldom, that you see normal people understanding a field enogh to even know what to consider when considering effects.

gorehound (profile) says:

UnConstitutional !

More wasted money as Politicians try to ram thru another Badly Written Broadly Based Law which breaks the Code of Law and Our Legal Rights.
More Wasted Tax Revenue we have to pay yearly !
And a lot of really stupid SHEEPLE who Voted Yes to losing their Rights.
Guess the SHEEPLE just Vote Blindly without even paying Attention to what they say Yes or No to.

This Law will be shut down as quick as it was Voted in.
Breaks Constitutional Rights from the Getgo !!!
And I do hate Sex Crimes…………..

Anonymous Coward says:

The other problem with this law is the things that it covers. For example, what about political sites that advocate positions that are unliked by the police who get the information. For example, the voter might dislike pay rises for police and openly advocate pay freezes. Putting this information into the hands of police would allow the political beliefs of citizens with voting rights to be identified. Obviously, if there is one crooked policeman who would falsify evidence against someone, that policeman might do it because of learning this kind of information. Isn’t it to prevent this kind of situation that free speech is constitutionally protected?

The Voice says:

This is how it starts.

We start with restricting the constitutional rights of sex offenders in California.
Other States will -think- ?hey that?s a good idea?.
Then we start adding to the list, People with a traffic offence, people who?ve had a parking ticket, People who use medication, people who attend concerts.
Then ? People who are not working for a government entities, people who are not part of the correct political system.

This is how it starts.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: This is how it starts.

First they came for the socialists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.
It did happen. It happens in many countries.
It will happen again.
It is human nature and Americans are not immune.
Freedom has to be won again every generation.

Anonymous Coward says:

It's not this law that needs reviewed

Hey if they can find it acceptable to put restrictions on the 2nd Ammendment, then it is just as acceptable to put them on the 1st…

But facts are it’s the Sex Offender Registry that has been twisted so far out of context that it’s nearly useless. The Sex Offender Registry violates numerous constitutional rights, which I would be all for if the registry truly was a registry of Rapists, child abusers etc…

But where’s the ACLU and EFF at to defend the Constitution against these abuses… OH Wait, noone wants to be seen as defending something that was “for the protection of our children.”

OH GOD now I find myself quoting little mikee 🙁 What has this world come too….

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: It's not this law that needs reviewed

Sticking a scarlet letter on someone rarely seems to work out well – regardless of the horrible things they may have done.

How’s this for a scarlet letter??

?Ohio Judge?s ?Idiot Sign? Order for Illegal School Bus Passer Causes Online Buzz? by Sylvia Arroyo, School Transportation News, 6 Nov 2012

Illegal school bus passings are no joke, and one Ohio judge was not laughing when he ordered a woman who passed a school bus by driving on the sidewalk, to wear a sign in public that says she?s an idiot.

The judge?s sentence is prompting hundreds of comments on social media?.?.?.?.

(Fwiw, the judge involved was not a ?he?, rather it seems ?he was a she.?)

Lots of people cheering the judge’s sentence.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 It's not this law that needs reviewed

> Driving on the pavement past a school
> bus, she should have been charged with
> attempted murder.

That would have been a stupid move for the prosecutor, since murder is an intentional crime and it would be impossible to prove this woman intended to kill people with her dumb move, if for no other reason than because she didn’t intend to kill anyone. Her actions may have been reckless and dangerous, but her intent was to get around the bus, not target children for death.

It would take all of ten seconds for even the most rookie defense attorney to get that thrown out and make the prosecutor look like a fool.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 It's not this law that needs reviewed

> An action like that is a deliberate
> and reckless endangerment of life

Yes, and that’s why we have a crime called manslaughter. If she’d hit someone, that’s what she would have been charged with, not murder.

As I said, murder requires intent to kill. This woman had no intent, so murder is off the table.

> What else do you call deliberately putting
> other people at risk.

See above.

Anonymous Coward says:

Into our town the Hangman came.
Smelling of gold and blood and flame
and he paced our bricks with a diffident air
and built his frame on the courthouse square

The scaffold stood by the courthouse side,
Only as wide as the door was wide;
A frame as tall, or little more,
Than the capping sill of the courthouse door

And we wondered, whenever we had the time.
Who the criminal, what the crime.
That Hangman judged with the yellow twist
of knotted hemp in his busy fist.

And innocent though we were, with dread,
We passed those eyes of buckshot lead:
Till one cried: “Hangman, who is he
For whom you raise the gallows-tree?”

Then a twinkle grew in the buckshot eye,
And he gave us a riddle instead of reply:
“He who serves me best,” said he,
“Shall earn the rope on the gallows-tree.”

And he stepped down, and laid his hand
On a man who came from another land
And we breathed again, for another’s grief
At the Hangman’s hand was our relief

And the gallows-frame on the courthouse lawn
By tomorrow’s sun would be struck and gone.
So we gave him way, and no one spoke.
Out of respect for his Hangman’s cloak.

The next day’s sun looked mildly down
On roof and street in our quiet town
And stark and black in the morning air,
The gallows-tree on the courthouse square.

And the Hangman stood at his usual stand
With the yellow hemp in his busy hand;
With his buckshot eye and his jaw like a pike
And his air so knowing and business like.

And we cried, “Hangman, have you not done
Yesterday with the alien one?”
Then we fell silent, and stood amazed,
“Oh, not for him was the gallows raised.”

He laughed a laugh as he looked at us:
“…Did you think I’d gone to all this fuss
To hang one man? That’s a thing I do
To stretch a rope when the rope is new.”

Then one cried “Murder!” One cried “Shame!”
And into our midst the Hangman came
To that man’s place. “Do you hold,” said he,
“With him that was meant for the gallows-tree?”

And he laid his hand on that one’s arm.
And we shrank back in quick alarm,
And we gave him way, and no one spoke
Out of fear of his Hangman’s cloak.

That night we saw with dread surprise
The Hangman’s scaffold had grown in size.
Fed by the blood beneath the chute
The gallows-tree had taken root;

Now as wide, or a little more,
Than the steps that led to the courthouse door,
As tall as the writing, or nearly as tall,
Halfway up on the courthouse wall.

The third he took-we had all heard tell
Was a user and infidel, and
“What,” said the Hangman “have you to do
With the gallows-bound, and he a Jew?”

And we cried out, “Is this one he
Who has served you well and faithfully?”
The Hangman smiled: “It’s a clever scheme
To try the strength of the gallows-beam.”

The fourth man’s dark, accusing song
Had scratched out comfort hard and long;
And what concern, he gave us back.
“Have you for the doomed–the doomed and black?”

The fifth. The sixth. And we cried again,
“Hangman, Hangman, is this the last?”
“It’s a trick,” he said, “That we hangmen know
For easing the trap when the trap springs slow.””

And so we ceased, and asked no more,
As the Hangman tallied his bloody score:
And sun by sun, and night by night,
The gallows grew to monstrous height.

The wings of the scaffold opened wide
Till they covered the square from side to side:
And the monster cross-beam, looking down.
Cast its shadow across the town.

Then through the town the Hangman came
And called in the empty streets my name-
And I looked at the gallows soaring tall
And thought, “There is no one left at all

For hanging.” And so he calls to me
To help pull down the gallows-tree.
And I went out with right good hope
To the Hangman’s tree and the Hangman’s rope.

He smiled at me as I came down
To the courthouse square through the silent town.
And supple and stretched in his busy hand
Was the yellow twist of the strand.

And he whistled his tune as he tried the trap
And it sprang down with a ready snap.
And then with a smile of awful command
He laid his hand upon my hand.

“You tricked me. Hangman!” I shouted then.
“That your scaffold was built for other men…
And I no henchman of yours,” I cried,
“You lied to me. Hangman. foully lied!”

Then a twinkle grew in the buckshot eye,
“Lied to you? Tricked you?” he said. “Not I.
For I answered straight and I told you true”
The scaffold was raised for none but you.

For who has served me more faithfully
Then you with your coward’s hope?” said he,
“And where are the others that might have stood
Side by your side in the common good?”

“Dead,” I whispered, and sadly
“Murdered,” the Hangman corrected me:
“First the alien, then the Jew…
I did no more than you let me do.”

Beneath the beam that blocked the sky.
None had stood so alone as I.
And the Hangman strapped me, and no voice there
Cried “Stay!” for me in the empty square.
Maurice Ogden

Sex Offender Issues (user link) says:

The laws in general are unconstitutional!

We do not force ex-identity thieves or ex-hackers to post their personal information online, nor any other criminal, so why should we start with today’s modern day scapegoat? If you do it for one group, then everybody, criminal or not, should be forced to not be anonymous online!


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