First Amendment

Overview

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. "

— The First Amendment to the United States Constitution

The First Amendment is a nuanced area of law. Our multi-disciplinary team drafts constitutionally sound regulations and defends them in federal or state court to helps clients in their actions as local government bodies.

We draft and defend decisions, ordinances and policies on issues such as the following.

  • Adult Use
  • Billboards
  • Newsrack Ordinances
  • Protests
  • Parade and Park Permits
  • Public Forum Provisions
  • Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA)
  • Rules of Decorum
  • Sign Ordinances
  • Solicitation Ordinances
  • Telecommunications

Our cases have both clarified existing law and also supported public agencies in their decisions.

In addition, our work has been supported by such organizations as the California State Association of Counties, the International Municipal Lawyers Association and the National League, among others.

In light of the recent First Amendment issues from the Occupy movement, numerous jurisdictions and the media have consulted us on the varied issues that have arisen.

Subpractices

  • We defend cities’ adult use zoning ordinances, permits and business regulations in addition to Section 1983 claims related to adult use businesses.

  • We drafted and implemented Culver City’s comprehensive First Amendment Policy Guidelines. This set of guidelines addressed the varied First Amendment issues at City Hall, public parks and various public properties by drawing upon cornerstone First Amendment decisions such as Berger v. City of Seattle and Santa Monica Food Not Bombs v. City of Santa Monica.

  • We advise our city clients on their authority to regulate demonstrations. We craft municipal codes that clearly define how groups can assemble on public property and impose reasonable time, place and manner restrictions.

  • Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) is another sensitive and difficult legal challenges that public entities face. Pronounced R-LOO-pah, the evolving 2000 federal law prohibits governments from imposing any land use regulations that place a substantial burden on religious activity unless there was a "compelling governmental interest."

  • For well over a decade, we have been representing the Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles (CRA/LA) in and outside the courtroom. We have advised on how to best regulate billboards, supergraphics and various other signs, as well as how to respond to the numerous challenges waged by the aggressive billboard industry against the agency’s regulations.