The Center for Individual Rights reached a settlement with the Attorney General of California this week that guarantees the Attorney General will not use California Code section 8195 to stifle legitimate First Amendment speech. The state of California previously attempted to use section 8195 to ban artist Timothy Desmond from displaying one of his paintings at the 2015 Big Fresno Fair because it depicted a Civil War battle scene, complete with Confederate flag. The section prohibits the state from displaying the Confederate flag on public property.
This week, the Attorney General entered a settlement that makes it clear that the law does not apply to the speech or acts of private citizens. The Attorney General conceded that “California Government Code section 8195 applies only to the State of California and not to private individuals… Section 8195 neither affects the rights of private individuals… nor authorizes the government to restrict the sale of a Confederate Flag or any similar images, by private individuals in a government forum.”
The settlement is a victory of the First Amendment rights of California citizens and a sign that California officials take seriously their responsibility to protect the First Amendment’s protection of free speech.