Friday, November 26, 2010

Free-Speech Clarity by California Courts (for once)

We read:
"If I own a home or a business, I have a right to decide who gets to visit me on that property. It’s a simple concept. Surprisingly, California’s courts—which seem to have specialized in eroding property rights—cut through the nonsense last July and ruled in a way that would make any parent of a kindergartner proud, even though the same court contradicted itself in a different ruling the next month. Still, it’s progress.

California’s Third District Court of Appeals “struck down a union-backed California law Monday that allows labor picketing on a store’s parking lots and private sidewalks, saying it unconstitutionally requires property owners to host speakers with whom they disagree,” reported the San Francisco Chronicle.

In this case the Sacramento local of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union began picketing a Foods Co. supermarket, owned by the Ralphs Grocery chain. Union protesters stood only a few feet from the door, handed out flyers to customers, and occasionally marched in front of the door.

When the company tried to evict the protesters the union invoked the 1975 Moscone Act. As the court of appeals explained in its decision, “The Moscone Act declares that conduct relating to a ‘labor dispute,’ such as peaceful picketing, ‘shall be legal,’ . . . .” The state’s labor code, the court stated, requires that before a court grants an injunction in a labor dispute, it must find that “unlawful acts have been threatened and will be committed unless restrained” and “That substantial and irreparable injury to complainant’s property will follow” and “That as to each item of relief granted greater injury will be inflicted upon complainant by the denial of relief than will be inflicted upon defendants by the granting of relief” and “That complainant has no adequate remedy at law” and “That the public officers charged with the duty to protect complainant’s property are unable or unwilling to furnish adequate protection.”

This is an absurdly hard-to-meet standard. Under the state law, then, protesters can swarm a property unless the owner can prove the protesters will destroy the property and meet all the other impossible-to-prove caveats stated above. In the name of protecting unions in labor disputes, the state code obliterated what one would normally consider the most basic tenet of property rights: the right to keep intruders off of one’s property.

In its 3-0 ruling in Ralphs Grocery Company v. United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 8, the court ruled: “This case presents the question of whether the state, based on the content of the speech, can force the owner or possessor of real property that is not a public forum to give an uninvited group access to the private property to engage in speech. We conclude that such legislation violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution and, therefore, is invalid.”

And more simple clarity from the court: “Forcing a speaker to host or accommodate another speaker’s message violates the host’s free speech rights.”



Anonymous said...

unions - expensive and unnecessary and anti-free market competition.

one of the top reasons why government budgets fail

Anonymous said...

A refreshing (and rare) display of logic and common sense by this notorious Mexifornia court.

Labor unions in America, a concept introduced and still controlled by communists, (see: comrade Trumka (sp) leader of the AFL/CIO) have done more damage to this country than almost any other entity. (except for congress and the MSM) What has always amazed me is how so many millions of union members are so blind as to what their union leaders are really doing with their hard-earned dues money. Jimmy Hoffa, a notorious criminal, stole hundreds-of-millions from his members, yet they treated his as a god. I've heard of mass hypnosis, but mass stupidity? Labor unions continue to be a cancer on our nation.

Anonymous said...

An interesting thing about California...Solicitors for political action groups, voter sign ups, petitions and charities can not be forced to leave a store's property. As long as they don't block the entrance, they can stand out there and beg all day long. I use the term charities rather loosely since the organizations do.

Anonymous said...

Someone correct me if I am wrong, but did this court in telling the unions to go climb a pole just also spike the "internet fairness doctrine"? Web sites are property too, just ask Homeland Security.