Gaetz, Greene’s Free Speech Battle Advances In Court

In an order issued Friday, Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) were granted permission by a federal judge to move forward with their lawsuit against the California cities of Anaheim and Riverside. This lawsuit comes in response to the cancellation of their planned America First rallies in 2021, which they argue resulted from undue pressure from left-leaning activists and city officials, infringing upon their rights to free speech.

U.S. District Judge Hernan Vera, appointed by Joe Biden, authored a 22-page opinion finding that the Republican lawmakers “adequately allege” that the municipal actions against their rallies were based on viewpoint discrimination, a direct challenge to First Amendment protections. However, Vera dismissed the lawmakers’ claims against certain civil rights groups, labeling them unfounded and lacking evidence of a conspiracy.

Gaetz and Greene, known for their vocal support of President Donald Trump and their roles as disruptors within the GOP, have faced significant opposition for their political stances. Their lawsuit asserts that the cancellations were a direct result of coercive actions by the cities aimed at silencing their conservative viewpoints. Following the cancellations, the lawmakers adapted by holding a “Free Speech Peaceful Protest” outside Riverside City Hall, which attracted over a hundred supporters.

The legal proceedings have stirred significant media attention, mainly as Gaetz and Greene’s legal team includes John Eastman, a figure noted for his controversial legal advice to President Trump. The lawsuit’s progression is seen by many as a test of free speech rights in an era where political division and censorship concerns are rampant.

In his ruling, Vera criticized the plaintiffs for what he described as a “misguided effort to settle political scores.” Nonetheless, the decision to allow the lawsuit to proceed against the cities marks a procedural victory for Gaetz and Greene, highlighting the ongoing national debate over freedom of speech and the extent to which political pressures can sway public venues.

The advancement of this lawsuit is not just a win for Gaetz and Greene but serves as a beacon for free speech advocates concerned about the increasing attempts to silence conservative voices in public forums. The ruling underscores the importance of upholding constitutional rights and challenges the notion that cities can indirectly regulate speech through coercive tactics on private venues.



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