Wednesday, January 15, 2020

No Action Under Color of Law In Refusing To Rent Meeting Space To Speaker

In Pasadena Republican Club v. Western Justice Center, (CD CA, Dec. 30, 2019), a California federal district court dismissed a suit claiming viewpoint discrimination and religious belief discrimination by the Western Justice Center (WJC) that was leasing the historic Maxwell House from the city of Pasedena.  WJC refused to rent space to the Republican Club for a speech by the president of the National Organization for Marriage because NOM's position on same-sex marriage, gay adoption, and transgender rights are antithetical to the values of WJC. In rejecting the Republican Club's civil rights claims, the court said in part:
The court will grant the Center’s and [its former executive director] Chirlin’s motion to dismiss because the complaint does not plausibly allege that the Center and Chirlin were acting under color of state law, as § 1983 requires, or that the City was involved in the alleged conspiracy, as § 1985(3) requires. Although a symbiotic relationship existed to some degree between the Center and the City, this case is distinguishable from Burton v. Wilmington Parking Authority, 365 U.S. 715 (1961), upon which the Club relies....