Court says San Clemente can’t ban leaflets on cars

In a great victory for the First Amendment, the U.S. District Court ruled against the City of San Clemente and it’s so-called “anti-litter” ordinance in an obvious, yet momentous, ruling on June 15.  What the City of San Clemente attempted to do in its unconstitutional ordinance was to prohibit the placement of advertising leaflets or pamphlets on the windows of parked vehicles.

In its bogus argument, the City of San Clemente claimed its ordinance was “necessary” to prevent litter.  In reality, the ordinance deprived individuals of their constitutional  right to freedom of speech.  From a political standpoint, the ordinance was targeted at  candidates who either were not officially “anointed” by the big poobahs of the dominant political party, and/or endorsed by the “business as usual” local Chamber of Commerce, and/or financed by developers and other special interests,  and/or had sufficient personal funds to pay for expensive political mailers.

Candidates for political office have a right to get their message out.  Not every candidate can be a former CEO of E-Bay or Hewlett-Packard with virtually unlimited funds, or a “celebrity” with name recognition and instant access to the media.  As a former City Councilman in Laguna Niguel and a former candidate for the Orange County Board of Supervisors, I know the value of  utilizing available distribution channels for political advertising.

Congratulations to the plaintiffs who took the City of San Clemente to court and subsequently prevailed on this matter.  This is indeed a victory for all of us and goes a long way toward attempting to level the playing field, which is already skewed in favor of the rich and famous.  Presumably, local governments will now think twice about trying to deprive citizens of their constitutional rights.

The Honorable Eddie Rose

Former Laguna Niguel City Councilman

“A Voice—Not an Echo”

About Eddie Rose