The Center for Individual Rights recently filed an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to hear Perryman v. Romero and act to defend the First Amendment rights of class action plaintiffs. In Perryman, class action plaintiffs who were the victims of consumer fraud are challenging a $12.5 million settlement, the bulk of which—under the legal doctrine of cy pres—will be dispersed to California universities to research internet privacy.
CIR has argued in the past that cy pres violates the First Amendment rights of class action plaintiffs because it forces them to financially support organizations they may disagree with. As the Supreme Court held in Janus v. AFSCME, “Compelling individuals to mouth support for views they find objectionable violates that cardinal constitutional command, and in most contexts, any such effort would be universally condemned.”
CIR’s brief in Perryman argues the principles of Janus should be extended to cy pres awards. The universities that received funds from the settlement could use the funds to take controversial positions on issues such as net neutrality or regulations that make internet access more expensive. Class action plaintiffs, like public employees, should not be forced to watch their funds be used to support activities they find objectionable.
You can read CIR’s brief here.