Update on Rocklin School Case and F.A.C.E. Legislation for California

Dana Cody

In June of 1998, LLDF filed a complaint against the Rocklin Unified School District in the Placer County Superior Court on behalf of four individuals who belong to the Sanctity of Human Life Network (SOHLNET). In summary, the complaint alleges that the district and its employees violated the civil rights of the four individual plaintiffs, Mr. and Mrs. Harry Reeves, John Ficker, and Murray Lewis, by denying them the opportunity to register to come on campus to leaflet.

Plaintiffs contend that established California case and statutory law (Penal Code sections 626 et seq.) have been interpreted by the courts to have created the right of access of nonstudents to come onto campuses to leaflet and/or engage in other peaceful expressive activity. The complaint alleges that by refusing these individuals the right to register, or to even stand on the public street adjacent to the school entrance to engage in expressive activity, their rights to free speech and freedom of association were impinged.

The case has already gone to trial. It was a bench trial before Superior Court Judge John L. Cosgrove. His decision strongly favored the defendant district based on the collective years of experience of their administrators as related to the registration of visitors on public school campuses. However, testimony at trial indicated none of the administrators, including the District Superintendent, had intimate knowledge of the cases or statutes involved. The case is now on appeal.

Interestingly, Senator Mike Machado, a pro-death Democrat from the Stockton area, has now introduced a bill, SB 862, that adds section 32214 to the Education Code. It reads as follows:

No person shall knowingly approach a pupil within eight feet of that pupil, unless the pupil consents, for the purpose of passing a leaflet or handbill to, displaying a sign to, or engaging in oral protest, or counseling with the pupil in the public way or sidewalk area within a radius of 100 feet from any entrance door to a public school.

The legislation is a predictable consequence of holding Educrats accountable for their dictatorial conduct. Some call it fascism. Unrelated to the school issue, but related to yet another assault on the right of pro-life speech, Senator Debra Ortiz of SB 1945 fame (SB 1945 was the hate crimes reporting bill was covered in Lifeline, Vol. X, No. 2) has introduced California’s version of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act. This bill is similar to SB 1945 in that any reporting requirements related to incidents of blocking at medical facilities would only be reported if pro-death advocates are the so-called victims.

Because the two bills will directly impact LLDF clients if signed into law, we are watching them closely. SB 862 may become an issue on appeal in the Rocklin case. Those interested in reading the bills, or in contacting their state representatives about them, can visit the State’s Legislative website at www.leginfo.ca.gov.