Last month Judge Dean Pregerson heard oral arguments on the City’s motion to dismiss this suit, filed by the Venice Justice Committee against the City of Los Angeles in opposition to its ham-fisted attempts to regulate speech on the Venice Boardwalk. Today he filed his order denying the motion to dismiss in part and granting it in part as well. Pregerson’s a lively writer, and the order makes interesting reading. There are three main issues addressed in the order.
First up, the City regulates vending on the Boardwalk in various ways, but contains an exception for soliciting donations and other activities protected by the First Amendment. Plaintiff Peggy Lee Kennedy was evidently told on a couple of occasions by LAPD officers that asking for donations was vending and that she had to stop or face arrest. Everyone agrees that these cops were in the wrong, but the question before the Court seems to have been whether the law “as applied” was unconstitutional. Pregerson found that it was not, and accordingly dismissed the parts of the complaint that had to do with that claim.
Second,1 the Plaintiffs made claims under the Bane Act, which allows people to sue if their constitutional rights were violated maliciously. Pregerson found that even assuming that the Plaintiffs’ constitutional rights were violated, they weren’t violated maliciously. I’m skipping some details, but that’s essentially why he also dismissed this cause of action.
Finally, and most interestingly, we come to the Plaintiffs’ claim that the City’s so-called Sunset Provisions are unconstitutional. This claim has to do with LAMC 42.15, which regulates vending and other activities at Venice Beach. In particular it states that “[n]o person shall set up or set down items in, take down items from or block, or attempt to reserve a Designated Space2 between Sunset and 9:00 am.”
Continue reading Venice Justice Committee v. City of Los Angeles: Pregerson Denies Essential Part of Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss, Case Will Proceed