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Unitarian Universalist v. Orth (Free Speech)

Status:
Active Case
Jun 10, 2019

The Unitarian Universalist Church in Fresno has displayed Black Lives Matter Banners on its property since the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville in 2017—part of Unitarian Universalism’s national Side With Love campaign

The banners were on display when Unitarian Universalist Church served as a polling place during the June 2018 elections. But prior to the November 2018 elections, Fresno County Registrar Brandi Orth received a complaint from a resident who called Black Lives Matter “a known domestic terrorist group” and pressed for the banners’ removal. Orth asked the church to cover up the signs or take them down for election day. When the church refused, the election official moved the polling place to another church, claiming that the Black Lives Matter Banners prevented Unitarian Universalist Church from being a “safe and neutral” polling place.

On June 10, 2019 the ACLU Foundation of Northern California filed a lawsuit against Fresno County's chief elections official for her illegal removal of the Unitarian Universalist Church poll. The suit, filed in Eastern District Court, argues that Orth, violated the church's right to Free Speech. 

The ACLU lawsuit is seeking an order that would prevent the registrar from disqualifying the church as a voting location because of Black Lives Matter signs on its property.

Learn more:

ACLU Sues Fresno County Election Official for Removing Church Polling Place in First Amendment Dispute over Black Lives Matter Banner (June 10, 2019)

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