A California gun rights group filed a federal lawsuit in Sacramento on Friday after the Legislature’s lawyer blocked a blog post that listed the addresses of lawmakers who recently supported gun control legislation.
Shortly after Gov. Jerry Brown signed a package of gun control measures July 1, a conservative blog posted what the author said were the home addresses of 40 legislators. The author pledged to keep the names up until lawmakers vote to repeal the laws or die.
The Office of Legislative Counsel demanded that WordPress, which hosted the blog, take down the post. The demand was based on a state law that forbids someone from posting the home address of an elected official with the intention or threat of causing great bodily harm, or if elected officials or their representatives demand that they not be published.
It was subsequently removed from the site and the author was barred from “publishing any similar content,” according to the the Firearms Policy Coalition.
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The coalition filed the suit against Legislative Counsel Diane Boyer-Vine on behalf of the author, who is one of its members, the organization said Friday. The group is claiming the law violates the First Amendment rights of the author, whom they would not identify.
“What the government is doing here is censoring speech it doesn’t like and we’ll prove that out in the case,” said Brandon Combs, president of the coalition, in a statement.
“We certainly never condone threats,” he said, “and if we thought the speech was threatening, we wouldn’t support the case.”
Combs argued that the author’s comment about removing a lawmaker’s address if they die wasn’t a threat because they could die of natural causes unrelated to the author’s blog post.
The Legislative Counsel’s Office could not be immediately reached for comment.