The Firearms Policy Coalition and the San Diego County Guns Owners PAC have filed a lawsuit that challenges a 1991 piece of legislation that was signed into law, which prohibited the use of the public video feed from the California State Assembly for any political or commercial purpose.
On its face, the legislation openly violates the Constitutional protections of free speech, and even freedom of the press.
Section 9026.5 provides as follows:
(a) No television signal generated by the Assembly shall be used for any political or commercial purpose, including, but not limited to, any campaign for elective public office or any campaign supporting or opposing a ballot proposition submitted to the electors.
As used in this section, “commercial purpose” does not include either of the following:
(1) The use of any television signal generated by the Assembly by an accredited news organization or any nonprofit organization for educational or public affairs programming.
(2) As authorized by the Assembly, the transmission by a third party to paid subscribers of an unedited video feed of the television signal generated by the Assembly.
(b) Any person or organization who violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor
The lawsuit comes as Emmy-award winning filmmakers Kris Koenig and Stephen Chollet want to use video of a debate that took place between representatives in both videos and political ads for the Firearms Policy Coalition. The two filmmakers fear they will be in violation of the pretended legislation rather than calling out the unconstitutional “law.”
California Attorney General Kamala Harris has been named as defendant in court documents that were filed in the US District court for the Eastern District of California on Thursday.
The FPC and the San Diego County Gun Owners PAC have sought to fight against the ban in federal court and have employed the help of Eugene Volokh. They are joined in the lawsuit by Koenig, Chollet, Michael Schwartz and Tim Donnelly.
Aside from Koenig and Chollet’s desire to use the footage for their purposes, Tim Donnelly is a candidate for Congress in California’s eighth congressional district. He served as a member of the California State Assembly from December 2010 to December 2014. He wants to use Assembly video footage in political advertisements in support of his congressional campaign and in opposition to other political candidates and issues, but has refrained from doing so because of Section 9026.5.
“Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and Senate President Kevin de León are playing fast and loose with legislative rules, but California law says that it’s a crime for us to use Assembly video to oppose their extreme agenda,” Firearms Policy Coalition Second Amendment Defense Committee Chairman Brandon Combs said in a statement emailed to Guns.com. “We filed this lawsuit because we’re not going to stand by and watch while Senator de León and Gavin Newsom compete to burn the Bill of Rights to the ground first.”