Yesterday, the Federal Court for the Western District of Washington released an adverse decision in Freedom Foundation v. Washington Dept of Ecology, dismissing the case. In 2017, the Washington Dept of Ecology kicked Santa-clad Freedom Foundation employees out of its public lobby for distributing leaflets explaining state employees’ right to opt out of union dues. This is viewpoint discrimination because they allow union representatives to express their views in that same public space. We argued that the government cannot suppress expression because public officials don’t agree with the speaker’s view.
“The federal court’s order is a blow to the rights of political advocacy groups who want to engage with the public on public property,” said PLF attorney Ethan Blevins. “The Department of Ecology went out of its way to deny Freedom Foundation any chance to inform the Department’s employees about their constitutional rights in public parts of Department headquarters, where other groups often engage in expression. The Department can’t pick and choose between speakers based on whether it likes what the speaker has to say. We look forward to vindicating Freedom Foundation’s speech rights on appeal.”
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Pacific Legal Foundation is a national nonprofit legal organization that defends Americans threatened by government overreach and abuse. Since our founding in 1973, we challenge the government when it violates individual liberty and constitutional rights. With active cases in 39 states plus Washington, D.C., PLF represents clients in state and federal courts, with 12 victories out of 14 cases heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.