Legal /

EXCLUSIVE: Nonprofit’s Lawsuit Over First Amendment Rights Headed for Supreme Court This Week

A dismissal by the courts could 'give cities the power to deny rights and protections to citizens and groups they simply do not like,’ said the group’s founder

Disclosure Notice: Peter Brimelow, the founder of VDARE, is the father of Hannah Claire Brimelow, a journalist for Timcast

No one sits closer to a potential violation of First Amendment rights than the VDARE Foundation, a non-profit group with a lawsuit on the docket to appear this week before the Supreme Court.

In 2017, a VDARE conference in Colorado Springs was abruptly canceled by the venue’s owners after mayor John Suthers announced he would not offer police protection for the event.

However, one of the freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution is the right of persons and groups to assemble peacefully. Law enforcement, in turn, has the responsibility to ensure public safety while protecting the privacy and associated rights of individuals.

In addition, the 14th amendment guarantees citizens’ rights to peacefully assemble without being hindered by the government. As such, the denial of protection and safety of VDARE on behalf of the city could be considered a direct blockade to the group’s legal rights.

The founder of VDARES, Peter Brimelow, argues that the scenario in Colorado Springs could set a dangerous precedent.

In an interview with Timcast, Brimelow said the entire situation was, in his view, a reason for alarm because the ongoing dismissal by the courts would “give cities the power to deny rights and protections to citizens and groups they simply do not like.”

Brimelow views VDARE’s initial lawsuit against Colorado Springs as a civil rights case that violated the constitutional rights of citizens and groups to assemble peacefully. Furthermore, the suit could have precedent in past civil rights cases heard by the Supreme Court. 

For example, in Edwards v. South Carolina, 372 U.S. 229 (1963), the Supreme Court ruled that South Carolina violated students’ First Amendment rights of peaceful assembly, speech, and petition when police dispersed a peaceful protest against segregation. The case symbolizes one of the roles played by the First Amendment and 14th Amendment to ensure the protection of the right to assemble. 

In the written opinion of the Supreme Court, Justice Potter Stewart wrote that the student’s actions “reflect an exercise of these basic constitutional rights [to speech, assembly, and petition] in their most pristine and classic form.” Stewart underscored that the students behaved peaceably and never threatened violence or harm. The judge concluded that the First and 14th Amendments do not “permit a State to make criminal nor inhibit the peaceful expression of unpopular views.”

After the mayor of Colorado Springs refused to settle at a significant cost to Colorado tax-payers, Colorado’s district court ultimately dismissed the case. The U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals subsequently upheld the dismissal last August.

“During the Civil Rights movement, such rights were outlined and defended by the judicial system,” Brimelow continued. He noted that the country has reached “a point of kritocracy” where we are becoming ruled by a judge’s decree. Brimelow said this is a decay of the democratic system of government on which the U.S. was founded. 

On Feb. 25, 2022, VDARE’s petition for Writ of Certiorari — VDARE Foundation v. City Of Colorado Springs — is scheduled to appear before the Supreme Court of the United States. SCOTUS may decide to hear the case or reject it on that day.

Brimelow said if the Supreme Court fails to take up the case, it means cities could be newly free to deny police protection to dissidents, exposing them to violence. According to him, this would be a staggering reversal of Civil Rights Era precedent.

“If this case isn’t taken up by the Supreme Court, cities across the U.S. can begin to oppress certain groups of people, legally,” Brimelow concluded.

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story did not include the critical detail that the 2017 event was cancelled by the venue. The prior version also did not include the disclosure that now precedes the article. 

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