Victory! CHP Upholds the First Amendment

The California Highway Patrol (CHP) has agreed to uphold the First Amendment right of individuals to protest the Escondido Police Department’s controversial traffic checkpoint program, in a settlement filed today in federal court.

The settlement concludes a case filed in May 2012 against Escondido and the CHP, in which the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties challenged interference by the City and CHP with the First Amendment rights of protesters who oppose checkpoints. The City of Escondido and the ACLU settled in October 2012.

Under the settlement, the CHP agrees to provide written instructions to CHP’s Oceanside office, which covers Escondido, that any alleged distraction of traffic arising from speech alone is not grounds to interfere with roadside protests from a sidewalk or other place pedestrians may lawfully be present. The CHP is also obligated to cover attorney fees and compensate the plaintiffS.

“The freedom to protest is a cornerstone of American democracy,” said David Loy, legal director for the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties. “I am glad that CHP has agreed to ensure its officers understand this fundamental principle.”

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