comments on Center for
(See comment on the 9th
post on the page.)
Back to the future ... CFJ
returns to the Washington
Supreme Court on a public
records issue. I don't know
whether to laugh or cry
when some things never
June 10 at 12:01pm
2010 (downloaded July 13,
2010 from second page of
David Loy, ACLU attorney
AKA David Blair-Loy and John David Loy
Freedom of Expression - ACLU Position Paper
January 2, 1997
...In 1971, the publication of the "Pentagon Papers" by the New York Times brought the
conflicting claims of free speech and national security to a head. The Pentagon Papers, a
voluminous secret history and analysis of the country's involvement in Vietnam, was
leaked to the press. When the Times ignored the government's demand that it cease
publication, the stage was set for a Supreme Court decision. In the landmark U.S. v. New
York Times case, the Court ruled that the government could not, through "prior restraint,"
block publication of any material unless it could prove that it would "surely" result in
"direct, immediate, and irreparable" harm to the nation. This the government failed to
prove, and the public was given access to vital information about an issue of enormous
The public's First Amendment "right to know" is essential to its ability to fully participate in
democratic decision-making. As the Pentagon Papers case demonstrates, the
government's claims of "national security" must always be closely scrutinized to make
sure they are valid...
This is what the San Diego ACLU says in July 2010 about a brave woman:
"What we appreciate...is her bravery and tenacity."
PROM STORIES: FACING DISCRIMINATION, OVERCOMING BARRIERS
Because we're so excited to welcome ACLU client Constance McMillen to
headline our ACLU Pride activities this week, it got us thinking what prom
experiences for LGBT students in the past were like.
What we appreciate about Constance's story is her bravery and tenacity.
She recently told the San Diego Gay and Lesbian News.com, "I am a
strong-minded, open-minded person, so I stood up for myself."
Judge: School violated lesbian's rights, but prom cancellation valid
By the CNN Wire Staff
March 23, 2010
A Mississippi lesbian Tuesday won a judge's backing for her contention that
her First Amendment rights were violated when her high school refused to
allow her to attend her prom with her girlfriend.
But U.S. District Judge Glen H. Davidson refused to order the Itawamba
County School District in Fulton, Mississippi, to hold the dance it had canceled
over the matter.
In his 12-page order, Davidson also ruled that Itawamba Agricultural High
School's denial of 18-year-old Constance McMillen's request to wear a tuxedo
to her prom was a violation of her rights.
"The record shows Constance has been openly gay since eighth grade and
she intended to communicate a message by wearing a tuxedo and to express
her identity through attending prom with a same-sex date," Davidson wrote...
School board attorney Michele Floyd said the school district was also
pleased with the decision.
She said the parent-sponsored event, which may be called a ball instead of a
prom, is to be held in Tupelo, 19 miles away...
ACLU of San Diego and
Imperial Counties “These
proposals are a step forward,
but if adopted as written, they
would still violate
the fundamental right to
freedom of speech,” said
David Blair-Loy, legal director
of San Diego & Imperial
...Counties. “The college
needs to repeal its existing
promptly adopt valid policies to
ACLU of San Diego & Imperial
Counties: News & Events
May 13, 2010SAN DIEGO �
Southwestern College (SWC)
limits free expression on its
California campus to a single
�free speech patio� and has
proposed a new policy that
May 14 at 2:40pm (2010)
ACLU of San Diego and
Imperial Counties Standing
up for individual’s rights is an
part of our American values
and traditions. Join the ACLU
ACLU of San Diego & Imperial
We invite you to take pride in
American values of freedom,
fairness, and equality for all by
becoming a proud card-
carrying member of the ACLU.
Our work sticking up for the
little guy is part of a great
American tradition. The ACLU
works daily in the courts,
July 7 at 5:18pm (2010)
SOUTHWESTERN COLLEGE ACTIONS AND POLICIES
INFRINGE FREE SPEECH
(What's David Blair-Loy doing on July 14, 2010? He's defending freedom of speech in
schools! That's what's on his agenda on July 14--as opposed to July 12, 2010. And yes,
eight months is long enough. So sue already!)
ACLU Demand Letter: 8 Months Is Long Enough!
July 14, 2010
Since last November, the American Civil Liberties Union of San Diego & Imperial Counties has been working
with the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education to convince Southwestern College to fix constitutional
problems with its so-called "Freedom of Expression" policy. The policy illegally restricts speech, expression
and assembly by students and faculty. Chief among the ACLU’s objections is the college’s declaration that
most of the campus is not a public forum, and that assembly and expression would be confined to a small
"free speech patio."
Over the course of the ensuing eight months, the ACLU and FIRE have exchanged correspondence with
SWC, which formed a committee to review the school’s free speech policy. "We’ve seen some forward
progress," said David Blair-Loy, legal director of the San Diego ACLU. "But we remain concerned that
Southwestern just isn’t getting it. We still have serious concerns that the college is scared of free expression
on its campus. I look forward to discussing this matter with the college’s counsel to see if imminent litigation
can be averted."
In a letter sent to SWC’s counsel today, the ACLU cited continuing concerns with the SWC policy requiring the
use of permits as a prior restraint on free speech and with the college's recalcitrant communications. Both the
ACLU and FIRE have sent several letters to the college, but have not received a written response from SWC
since a letter dated May 25, 2010, in which the school’s counsel indicated the school was continuing to revise
its free speech policies and would consider suggestions offered by the ACLU and FIRE.
As always, the ACLU strives to resolve matters without litigation. "For the past several months I have been
hoping to resolve these issues without litigation if possible," Blair-Loy wrote in the letter. "If the relevant
policies have been formally revised, please let me know as soon as possible. But if SWC has not taken and
does not immediately take sufficient action to comply with the relevant law protecting freedom of speech on
campus…I have no alternative but to initiate litigation."
The ACLU's demand letter offered continuing discussions on how to resolve the issues and protect freedom
of speech on campus, but noted that after eight months and little to show for it, litigation is likely to result if the
problem is not solved soon.
Letter to Southwestern College
ACLU joins suit over conditions at Otay Mesa detention facility
By Greg Moran
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
January 24, 2007
SAN DIEGO – Immigration detainees at an Otay Mesa facility live in
overcrowded and unsafe conditions that threaten their overall health and are
unconstitutional, the American Civil Liberties Union in San Diego alleged in
court documents filed Wednesday.
Hundreds of detainees are crammed three to a cell in cramped quarters built
for two, according to the claim.
“They are basically stuffing people like sardines in these tiny cells,” said
David Blair-Loy, legal director for the local ACLU. “This isn't just saying, we're
a little cramped in here. This is systematic, long-term outrageous
ACLU LEGAL DIRECTOR CELEBRATED FOR CIVILITY
San Diego County Bar Association's Annual Bench-Bar Mixer
July 10, 2008
On April 24,the San Diego County Bar Association hosted a "Celebration of Civility" at its annual Bench-Bar
mixer to launch the organization's 2008 Campaign of Civility, Integrity and Professionalism.
The celebration honored David Blair-Loy, Legal Director of the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties,
and thirteen other individuals for "outstanding acts of civility in the legal community."
"I'm truly honored to receive this recognition," said David Blair-Loy. "While the ACLU fights hard for
fundamental rights, we also do our best to fight fairly. I'm glad to know the legal community recognizes our
commitment to professionalism and civility in litigation."
* 6 years since John David Blair-Loy was first licensed to practice law in CA.
* 12 years since John David Blair-Loy was first licensed to practice law in WA.
[Maura Larkins: Perhaps a
companion article needs
to be written: "ACLU's new
legal director jumps to
when local school
attorneys call the shots."]
Blair-Loy, who started at the
San Diego ACLU in April,
hit the ground running. He
has taken the lead in the
ACLU's representation of
Malia Fontana, a 15-year
old honor student in
Fallbrook who, on March
31, 2006, was ordered by
school officials to remove a
small American flag she
was wearing in her back
Passing the Legal Baton
SAN DIEGO - The ACLU of
San Diego & Imperial
Counties welcomes David
Blair-Loy as the
organization's new Legal
Director. Blair-Loy comes to
the ACLU after twelve years
of practice in a variety of
public interest areas,
including civil and criminal
cases, trial and appellate
work. He replaces Jordan
Budd, former Legal Director
and an institution in the San
Diego legal community,
who accepted a
professorship at a New
Hampshire law school.
"The ACLU is thrilled to
have found such a
dedicated civil libertarian
and legal talent. David has
the knowledge and
expertise to defend our
freedoms during one of the
most challenging times in
our nation's history," said
Kevin Keenan, Executive
Director of the ACLU of San
Diego & Imperial Counties.
"We are extremely fortunate
to have him join our team."
Blair-Loy was carefully
selected in a national
search with the assistance
of a prestigious committee
of San Diego attorneys
including Charles Bird of
Luce, Forward, Hamilton, &
Scripps; Susan Clemens of
the San Diego Office of
Public Defender; Len
Simon of Lerach, Coughlin,
Stoia, Geller, Rudman, and
Robbins; and prominent
immigrants' rights attorney
Blair-Loy, who started at
the San Diego ACLU in
April, hit the ground
running. He has taken the
lead in the ACLU's
representation of Malia
Fontana, a 15-year old
honor student in Fallbrook
who, on March 31, 2006,
was ordered by school
officials to remove a small
American flag she was
wearing in her back
pocket; and he joined with
the other two California
ACLU affiliates to file
lawsuits against Verizon
and AT&T to enjoin them
from providing private
customer information to the
National Security Agency
without warrants or
Before relocating to San
Diego two years ago,
Blair-Loy served with the
Center for Justice, a
non-profit law office in
Spokane, Washington. At
the Center, Blair-Loy
laws, protected victims of
police brutality, and
defended an alternative
weekly newspaper from
libel claims by a city council
Blair-Loy served in the
Spokane County Public
Defender's office, where he
tried felony and
misdemeanor cases and
the Office of the Appellate
Defender in New York City,
where he represented
defendants on appeal.
Blair-Loy is no stranger to
the ACLU. He worked
closely with the ACLU of
Washington and served as
a cooperating attorney in a
case that protected free
speech rights on public
sidewalks. "San Diego has
inherited a seasoned civil
liberties advocate, a
lawyer, and an eminently
pleasant colleague," said
Aaron Caplan, ACLU of
Washington Staff Attorney.
Blair-Loy graduated magna
cum laude from
School of Law in 1994 and
clerked for then-Chief
Judge Dolores Sloviter of
the Third Circuit Court of
"I am more honored than I
can say that the ACLU of
San Diego and Imperial
Counties has asked me to
build on Jordan Budd's
brilliant, thirteen-year legacy
in defending the
Constitution and protecting
civil liberties," said Blair-Loy.
Jordan Budd, a graduate of
Harvard University Law
School, accepted the post
of Professor of Law at the
Franklin Pierce Law Center
in Concord, New
During his tenure, Budd led
the ACLU to major victories
and enlisted the support of
San Diego's legal
community in the fight to
protect the Constitution and
Bill of Rights. His many
legal milestones include:
--In 1996, Budd prevented
the relocation of protesters
to a further-afield "free
speech zone" at the
Convention in NOW v. RNC
et al, in which a district
court struck down speech
--In 2003, Budd and
volunteer attorneys from
Morrison & Foerster won a
landmark victory (now
awaiting a decision from
the 9th Circuit Court of
Barnes-Wallace v. City of
San Diego, challenging the
City's subsidizing of leases
of public lands by the Boy
Scouts, an organization that
nonbelievers, gays, and
--In Sanchez v. County of
San Diego, the ACLU
challenged "Project 100%,"
a County program that
requires all applicants for
welfare benefits to submit
to an unannounced search
of their homes and
interrogations by welfare
fraud investigators. The
ACLU lost at the district
court level in 2003 but is
awaiting a decision from
the 9th Circuit Court of
--Budd pressed to find an
appropriate remedy for the
city of San Diego's
unconstitutional display of a
24-ton Christian cross on
public land on Mount
Soledad (co-counsel then
amicus, Paulson v. City of
San Diego), resulting in a
decision from the Ninth
Circuit Court of Appeals
striking down the City's
preferential transfer of the
cross to a private
--to have Operation
Gatekeeper declared a
violation of human rights by
the Organization of
Commission on Human
Rights (ACLU of San Diego
& Imperial Counties v.
United States of America);
--to champion the right of
voters to fair, accurate
voting machines (Common
Cause v. Jones and
Registration Project v.
code in Shapiro v.
Dynes, leading to
elimination of the
regulations, litigated a
case that struck down San
Diego's juvenile curfew
ordinance (Nunez v. City of
San Diego), and
succeeded in having the
County's Sheriff held in
contempt for violating
population limits imposed
at the Los Colinas
women's jail (Armstrong v.
County of San Diego).
--Budd also participated in
and led many battles for
civil liberties outside the
working with the San Diego
Police Department under
then police chiefs Jerry
Sanders and David
Bejarano to institute data
collection and analysis of
police stops to detect racial
"While Jordan Budd leaves
a legacy that is deep and
rich, the board and staff of
the ACLU of San Diego and
Imperial Counties are
certain that David Blair-Loy
has the talent, energy and
dedication to take the
affiliate to the next level,"
said Rebecca Jones,
president of the San Diego
ACLU's board of directors.
The ACLU is a nonprofit,
established in 1920 to
defend civil liberties,
including First Amendment
rights, the right to equal
protection of the law, the
right to due process, and
the right to privacy. The
ACLU has over 400,000
San Diego ACLU's David Blair-Loy on prior
restraints (at Southwestern College)
PO Box 87131 San Diego, CA 92138-7131
T/ 619-232-2121 F/ 619-232-0036
November 9, 2009
Dr. Raj K. Chopra, President
900 Otay Lakes Road
Chula Vista, CA 91910
Re: Southwestern College Actions and Policies Infringing Free Speech
Dear President Chopra:
...“A prior restraint exists when the enjoyment of protected expression is contingent upon
the approval of government officials.” Baby Tam & Co., Inc. v. City of Las Vegas, 154 F.3d
1097, 1100 (9th Cir.1998). A requirement to obtain a permit before engaging in speech is a
prior restraint. Forsyth County v. The Nationalist Movement, 505 U.S. 123, 130 (1992).
Because prior restraints on college students’ speech are not authorized, the college may
not require a permit before a demonstration may occur.
3. The First Amendment narrowly circumscribes the college’s right to
require an advance permit for speech or assembly.
Even if the statute did authorize a permit requirement, the First Amendment
disfavors prior restraints, and the government bears a heavy burden to justify them. NAACP
Western Region v. City of Richmond, 743 F.2d 1346, 1355 (9th Cir. 1984); Rosen v. Port of
Portland, 641 F.2d 1243, 1247, 1249 (9th Cir. 1981)...
3. Blair-Loy's school attorney pal
Dan Shinoff (yes, the one who
defended Bonny Garcia), also
won the Daily Transcript award
(in 2005). Most lawyers don't vie
for it. School districts have paid
to defend Daniel Shinoff.
The legal director of the ACLU of
San Diego & Imperial Counties,
David Blair-Loy, was named as
one of San Diego's top attorneys
in an annual competition
sponsored by the San Diego Daily
"pays tribute to San Diego
County's legal cream of the crop,"
read the legal newspaper's article
announcing the year's winners.
"I am thrilled that my colleagues
respect my work and passion,"
said David Blair-Loy. "I am a
vigorous advocate for civil liberties
and the Constitution, but I always
seek a cordial relationship with all
my peers, even when we're in
The peer voting process began in
March with an announcement of a
call for nominations. The
requested San Diego County
lawyers to nominate their peers,
with whom they had professional
experience, who they felt were
worthy of recognition.
More than 6,000 e-mail invitations
were sent to attorneys listed in the
San Diego County Attorney
Directory 2009. Nearly 900
nominations among the 14
pre-selected categories were
SDDT Voting Process
The nominations were assigned
a value of one. Nominations
made by an attorney practicing in
the same firm as the nominee
had a value of 0.5 subtracted from
the original value of one.
Nominations between firms had a
value of 0.5 added to the original
value. Once the preliminary
values were finalized, multiple
nominations were combined to
determine a total score for the
nominee. Nominees could be
nominated in multiple categories
and potentially be a finalist in
more than one category.
The top 25 nominees were then
selected in each category based
on the total score. In certain
categories, there were more than
25 attorneys due to ties. These
attorneys advanced to the
The semifinalists were notified
that they had advanced to the next
level and were asked to cast their
votes for 10 nominees in their
categories. When the voting was
closed, The Transcript validated
the votes cast.
The top 10 attorneys in each
category were selected based on
the number of peer votes they
received. Some categories have
more than 10 attorneys due to ties.
Additionally, The Transcript
selected 10 noteworthy San
Diego County attorneys to be
listed under "The Transcript 10,"
which showcases an eclectic mix
of practices. Lawyers chosen to
be among The Transcript 10 were
removed from the nominating
(Excerpts from this
announcement are from the San
Diego Daily Transcript, published
July 8, 2009.)
Press Funds Frozen
04 March 2010
The Guardian, UCSD
More than a week after A.S. President Utsav Gupta froze all funding to student media
organizations, councilmembers and media-org representatives — along with an
American Civil Liberties Union lawyer — are still debating the constitutionality of the Feb.
...Muir TV Co-chair Holly Eskew has taken more direct action against the council. She has
asked David Blair-Loy, legal director of the San Diego branch of the ACLU, to take the
However, Blair-Loy cannot litigate until he has a particular media org as a client. Eskew
is talking with the orgs to work out the next step.
“I’m the liaison that is helping the orgs affected come together for free speech,” Eskew
According to Blair-Loy, Gupta’s decisions are unconstitutional because they are
motivated by an intent to censor content. He said that Gupta’s argument — that the freeze
does not violate the First Amendment because it targets all media organizations — is
“It’s not legal just because it’s imposed on everyone,” Blair-Loy said. “We know that
because he pulled it after what happened on SRTV, and he’s on record saying that he
wants to revoke because of the Koala.”
Blair-Loy compared the freeze to a situation in which a racist employer wants to fire a
“He knows he can’t fire just that employee since it’d be too obvious, so he fires them all,”
he said. “But that doesn’t make it okay, because the racist intent is still there.”
Gupta reiterated that the freeze was not motivated by content.
“Maybe the ACLU is confused by the misinformation that the Koala has perpetuated, but
the fact that they’re distributing shows that they were able to publish, and that this is
definitely not about censoring free speech,” Gupta said...
VICTORY FOR FREE SPEECH ON UCSD CAMPUS
Student Council Lifts Freeze on Student Media Funding
March 12, 2010
Last night, the Associated Students Council at the University of California, San Diego
voted to end an unconstitutional freeze on student media funding. In a victory for the First
Amendment, the vote reinstates the funding process for student media organizations
under existing, viewpoint-neutral rules. The ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties,
FIRE, the Student Press Law Center, and Center for Campus Free Speech opposed the
funding freeze and supported the students who successfully fought it.
On February 19, the student president, Utsav Gupta, announced that he unilaterally froze
funding to all student media organizations in retaliation for certain content broadcast by
one student group. No matter how lofty his motivations, Gupta's actions unlawfully
punished all student media organizations for the viewpoint expressed by one. When a
university allocates funding to student groups to promote diverse viewpoints, as does
UCSD, the First Amendment prohibits the university - or student government - from
retaliating because of the viewpoint expressed by any student group. The speech of such
student groups is private speech, not government speech, and censorship cannot be
justified on the ground that the student speech is attributable to the university.
Gupta also illegally singled out the student press. Numerous UCSD student
organizations that receive funding engage in speech, much of which could be considered
controversial, including an "Armenian Genocide Commemoration," an event titled
"Wedding Between UC San Diego and Military Industrial Complex," the "Justice in
Palestine Week 2010," events sponsored by Students for Justice in Palestine, "The
Vagina Monologues," and a screening of "For Liberty: Ron Paul Revolution Documentary."
Yet the student government froze only student media funding, not all student organization
funding. The First Amendment prohibits this kind of discrimination against the student
"While I would have been fully prepared to defend the First Amendment in court, I'm glad
that the Council followed the law, for now," said David Blair-Loy, legal director of the ACLU
of San Diego and Imperial Counties. "But the ACLU will closely monitor any further efforts
to undermine freedom of the student press and will not hesitate to pursue litigation if
necessary. UCSD has real problems, but censorship is not the answer."
In theory, the ACLU believes criticism of schools should be allowed:
SCHOOL BOARD ABOLISHES PUBLIC
ACLU Had Criticized Rule as Free Speech Violation
Oct. 14, 2008
The San Diego Unified School Board reversed recently adopted policies
prohibiting its board members from making negative comments about their
superintendent and staff and from criticizing board decisions when speaking
Read the article.
The ACLU and California Aware (an open government group) had raised
objections to the policy as soon as they were made aware of the board's vote
on Sept. 25, 2008.
While the ACLU noted in its demand letter that the board perhaps had the
laudable motivation of bringing civility to the board and its meetings, the
policies nonetheless constituted an undue restriction on freedom of speech.
The ACLU is pleased that the board reversed the policy, allowing the public to
be fully informed of its elected officials' positions on educational matters.
Top Attorneys 2010
The Daily Transcript does
not evaluate the lawyers it
chooses as "Top Lawyers" of
the year; there is no panel of
experts making the choice.
Nor do all the lawyers in town
participate in the vote.
Instead, the voters select
themselves. To win, a lawyer
has to get his pals to send in
ballots. (There is even a
section for insurance
lawyers.) The Daily
Transcript seems to be
promoting itself by exploiting
lawyers who feel the need to
promote themselves. The
most highly regarded lawyers
do not seem to participate in
this contest. David Blair-Loy
has exerted himself mightily
for two years in a row to
become one of the many
"winners" of this contest.
From the DT's online
newspaper, San Diego
ACLU Foundation of San Diego &
Northwestern University School of
Brown University, 1987
California, Illinois (inactive), New
York, Washington (inactive)
Appellate, Civil Litigation,
Discrimination & Civil Rights
With able co-counsel, I
spearheaded the case of Garrett
v. City of Escondido, which
successfully challenged a local
ordinance prohibiting landlords
from renting to unauthorized
immigrants. I filed an amicus brief
in Harper v. Poway Unified School
District, defending the free speech
rights of a conservative Christian
student. I have appeared in
several other First Amendment
cases, including the court martial
of a Marine for speaking to the
press. I am co-counsel in cases
challenging denial of medical
care to immigration detainees,
denial of due process to
immigrants, and the City of San
Diego’s confiscation and
destruction of the property of
After graduating law school, I
clerked for the Hon. Dolores K.
Sloviter on the Third Circuit. For
two years afterward, I worked as a
staff attorney with Office of the
Appellate Defender in New York
City. From 1997 to 2004, I was a
public defender and a civil rights
attorney in Spokane, Wash. I
moved to San Diego in November
2004 and was in private practice,
litigating civil and criminal
motions and appeals, until April
2006, when I became legal
director for the ACLU Foundation
of San Diego & Imperial Counties.
I am a member of the San Diego
County Bar Association and a
member of the Southern District
Committee. I serve on the board
of the San Diego Lawyers Chapter
of the American Constitution
The ACLU’s Legal Agenda
Witness to Police Misconduct Speaks to ACLU
by Mark Gabrish Conlan
Feb. 18, 2010
Chris Carlino spoke at the annual meeting of the San Diego chapter of the American Civil
Liberties Union (ACLU) February 18 and relived her experience being pepper-sprayed by an
abusive sheriff's deputy at a fundraiser for Congressional candidate Francine Busby eight
months earlier. Her attorney, Mike Marrinan, and Privacy Rights Clearinghouse director Beth
Givens also spoke at the meeting, and San Diego ACLU staff attorney David Blair-Loy laid
out the group's local legal agenda.
...the February 18 ACLU meeting also heard a rapid-fire presentation from its own staff
legal director, David Blair-Loy, who explained that the local chapter closed 28 cases
in 2009 and has 28 additional cases still pending.
Using attorneys from a variety of sources — grant funding, loan-outs from private firms and
the ACLU’s own donations — Blair-Loy boasted that the chapter handles “an increasingly
diverse legal docket, including free speech, immigrants’ rights, youth rights and the poor. We
are litigating cutting-edge issues involving trademarks and free speech.”
The case Blair-Loy was referring to involved a motorcycle gang under threat from the federal
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), which was “summarily confiscating their
jackets and insignia because individuals in that group had been accused — not convicted —
of certain crimes.” Blair-Loy raised the grim spectre that if the government wins that case,
their next step could be to seize everything with the ACLU’s own logo if any ACLU members
also engage in civil disobedience.
“We represented a Marine Corps private who was charged with breaking an order not to
speak to the media on unclassified matters,” Blair-Loy said. “We continue to fight for
disclosure of information on federal surveillance of the Muslim community in San Diego. We
just settled a case against the Fallbrook Union High School District, and the Ramona high-
school district recently apologized for prohibiting student Natalie Jones from giving a
classroom presentation on Harvey Milk. We also have an ongoing legal battle with
Southwestern College, which — surprisingly for a college which is supposed to celebrate
the free exchange of ideas — recently declared its entire campus a non-public forum.”
Blair-Loy also discussed the San Diego ACLU’s involvement in immigrant rights, including a
high-profile case involving a native of Somalia who fled torture in his own country, came here,
sought political asylum — and was immediately put in federal detention, where he’s been
held for 18 months so far without any hearing at all. “We also were involved in a case about
the right of mentally ill immigrant detainees to a competency hearing before they’re deported
and/or appointment of a guardian to protect their interests,” Blair-Loy said. “We were
instrumental in denouncing the federal government’s summary deportation of three high
school students who were rounded up at the Old Town Trolley Center. We were able to
prevail on the government to give them humanitarian parole back into the U.S. to be reunited
with their families and pursue their rights in immigration court.”
Other issues the ACLU is pursuing, Blair-Loy said, include protecting the rights of high
school students to go off campus to obtain confidential medical services; challenging an
Imperial city police officer who Tasered a 16-year-old in his backyard; filing an amicus curiae
brief in a case claiming that it’s a violation of due process for the courts to pay defense
counsel in death-penalty cases a flat fee; and a suit against the city of San Diego challenging
the police department’s practice of raiding homeless people’s encampments while the
homeless people themselves are being served lunch or accessing services, confiscating
their shopping carts and dumping all their belongings willy-nilly into dumpsters. Blair-Loy
noted that the city of Fresno recently paid a $2.5 million settlement in a similar case but “San
Diego took the wrong message” from that history.
The ACLU also elected its new board of directors for the year and gave out two “Bill of
Rights Awards” to local civil-liberties activists. One, Marilyn Adams, wasn’t there to receive
her award; but the other, 18-year-old Max Oglethorpe, was. A student at San Dieguito High
School who plans to enter college this fall, Oglethorpe won the award for preparing Web-
based maps of all the prisons, lockups, detention camps and other secure facilities in San
Diego County so the families of prisoners can log onto the Internet and find their
incarcerated relatives. He’s also pursuing other programs to help prisoners’ families.
Who shares the Daily
Transcript's Top Attorney
"honor" with Blair-Loy?
An interesting list of lawyers:
2. Another attorney from Bonny
Garcia's firm, Marie C. Mendoza,
also won. It's obvious, when
looking at the long list of winners,
that certain law firms got busy and
nominated several of their
lawyers, and everyone in the firm
voted for their fellow employees,
making sure that the few firms that
invested energy in this project had
many winners. Both of the lawyers
from Garcia's firm are in the same
category as Blair-Loy,
"Government Municipal," which
has a total of seven winners. I've
never heard of the other four.
For one thing, he gets along very well with school attorneys Dan Shinoff and Mark
Bresee. Blair-Loy works very hard to avoid ACLU lawsuits against districts they
represent, even when those districts violate civil rights. He is not interested in
protecting the civil rights of defendants in private defamation lawsuits brought by
Dan Shinoff's firm (see lawsuits re whistle-blower Scott Dauenhauer and blogger
Instead, he writes polite letters like this one. The ACLU did not even sue San Diego
Unified School District in its lawsuit regarding school fees, although parent Sally
Smith sent a great deal of documentation to the San Diego ACLU regarding violations
in SDUSD. Meanwhile, the ACLU in Los Angeles has successfully sued LAUSD
regarding both fees and excessive teacher layoffs at low-income schools.
See posts re school fees.
Mr. Blair-Loy's favorite activity by far, however, seems to be providing quotes to news-
papers in which he spouts principles that he apparently doesn't really believe in.
San Diego Association for
February 28, 2010
Speaker: David Blair-Loy on
The Perpetual Cross.
The cross on Mt. Soledad is
a story that just won’t go
away. Neither, apparently,
will the cross itself. SDARI
member Phil Paulson won
his case and Judge
Thompson ordered it
removed in 1991. Then San
Diego started appealing,
losing every time. It was
there and on city property,
illegally. Then recently
facing a $5000 fine per day
for not complying with a
court order, a local
congressmen managed to
transfer the top of a
mountain where the cross
sits to the federal
government. Now it looks
like another round of
appeals with the case
eventually being decided by
the Supreme Court. What
does all this mean? Where
will it end up? Does it really
matter? The ACLU thinks it
is important. On behalf of
the Jewish War Veterans it
is still pursuing the case for
removing the cross. David
Blair-Loy, local legal
director, for the ACLU
brough us up to date on the
case. After graduating
Northwestern Law School,
Mr. Blair-Loy clerked for the
Hon. Dolores K. Sloviter on
the Third Circuit. From 1997
to 2004, he was a public
defender and a civil rights
attorney in Spokane,
Washington. In April 2006,
he became legal director for
the ACLU Foundation of
San Diego & Imperial
Counties. The Daily
Transcript named him one
of our top ten lawyers in
In 2009, the
ACLU’s legal staff:
and three summer
In (Chantel) Ariosta v.
Fallbrook Union High
School District, we
challenged a principal’s
the school newspaper
and continue to
of the journalism
STOP WHITEWASHING FREE SPEECH AT LA JOLLA HIGH
San Diego ACLU Fights for Students� Free Speech Rights on Senior Benches
[from the ACLU website]
May 16, 2011
SAN DIEGO � La Jolla High School illegally whitewashed political messages painted by
concerned students on campus benches that have traditionally been open for free expression,
the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties and Bostwick & Jassy LLP charged in a complaint
The "senior benches" on the LJHS campus are a traditional forum for student speech. The
school has allowed students to paint messages on the benches about numerous and diverse
topics, including Associated Student Body election slogans, support for presidential candidates,
birthday wishes, football victories, and love notes. On February 15, 2011, the day after massive
popular protests erupted in Iran, two LJHS students painted "Freedom for Iran" and "Down with
Dictator" on the benches to express their support for freedom and democracy in Iran. As she
wrote in an op-ed published by the San Diego Union-Tribune, an author of those messages
came to the United States with her parents "to escape the oppression in Iran" and be "educated
in an environment where freedom of expression was respected and valued."
Unfortunately, the LJHS administration is not living up to that promise. It immediately
whitewashed her messages and later declared that the benches are reserved only for "positive
messages about LJHS students and school activities." As argued by the ACLU and Bostwick &
Jassy, "positive messages" is a vague and unconstitutional standard for curtailing student
The administration also declared that students wishing to post any other messages on nearby
bulletin boards must obtain prior approval from the administration, in clear violation of federal
and state law, including Education Code section 48907, which is a landmark California law
protecting freedom of speech for students.
"The law guarantees freedom of expression to California students," said David Blair-Loy, legal
director of the San Diego ACLU. "La Jolla High should be celebrating the commitment of its
students to freedom and democracy, not clamping down on it."
When Yumehiko Hoshijima, a graduating LJHS senior, stood up for freedom of speech by
painting "Freedom for LJHS & Iran" and "Ed. Code 48907" on the benches, the administration
whitewashed those messages as well and threatened disciplinary action "if inappropriate signs
continue to appear on the benches." LJHS Principal Dana Shelburne declared, "If we can�t
figure it out, we paint it out."
"La Jolla High School has allowed students to paint messages on these benches for years," said
Jean-Paul Jassy, partner in Bostwick & Jassy and an LJHS graduate (class of �92). "Now, the
school is turning its back on the tradition of free expression it used to uphold. Censorship like
this is not what we should be teaching our students."
"It is ironic that students advocating for the civil rights of citizens in an oppressive regime like
Iran are having their own rights ignored here in the United States," said Sarah Abshear, staff
attorney of the San Diego ACLU.
On February 18, 2011, the San Diego ACLU sent a letter to the principal and San Diego Unified
School District, seeking to resolve the matter without litigation. The District finally responded on
the merits over two months later, refusing to acknowledge any problem and leaving no option
but to litigate the case.
ESCONDIDO: ACLU says city illegally endorsing Christianity
By DAVID GARRICK
July 17, 2011
The American Civil Liberties Union says Escondido is illegally endorsing Christianity by allowing
"moment of reflection" speakers at City Council meetings to use language such as "Jesus" and
But city officials say the speeches are not illegal because the city doesn't choose the speakers,
doesn't endorse their words and does nothing to prevent participation by speakers from other
City Attorney Jeff Epp said last week that Escondido strives to stay within the law by having an
outside group, Emmanuel Faith Community Church, coordinate the speakers.
In addition, the city has given Emmanuel Faith an instruction sheet for speakers that urges them
to make their invocation as "inclusive" and "nondenominational" as possible.
"I'm not sure what a city can do if the volunteer speakers continue to ignore it," said Epp, noting
that the city also can't control what citizens say during the part of the council meeting reserved
for public commentary.
But David Blair-Loy, legal director for the local ACLU chapter, said allowing moment-of-reflection
speakers to continually invoke "Jesus" is a clear violation of the constitutional separation of
church and state.
He said nine of the 12 speakers during 2011 have said either "Jesus" or "Heavenly Father" in
For example, on March 16 a speaker said, "I ask all of these things in the precious name of
Jesus." And on June 8, a speaker said, "We pray also that you would respect one another in
Each of the 12 speakers this year has represented the Christian faith.
Blair-Loy said the U.S. Constitution clearly prohibits governments from affiliating themselves with
"any religious doctrine or organization," or allowing prayers that affiliate the government with "one
specific faith" or belief.
"The government has no business endorsing any religion," said Blair-Loy. "Our Constitution
protects freedom of conscience best by keeping government out of religion."
He said he empathizes with the city about the difficulty of controlling volunteer speakers, but that
Christianity has become too prominent at Escondido council meetings.
"I understand if there's a little slippage on the margins," said Blair-Loy. "But it's beginning to look
like it's a Christian City Council."
Blair-Loy said the focus on Christianity could make people of other faiths and atheists feel
unwelcome or like second-class citizens in Escondido, despite a stipulation on council agendas
that the city does not endorse the words of moment-of-reflection speakers.
"A reasonable person could conclude that if it's on the agenda, it's condoned by the city," said
Blair-Loy. "The person off the street doesn't necessarily read the fine print."
In response to the ACLU complaint, Escondido sent Emmanuel Faith a new set of more detailed
guidelines last week. The guidelines, which were provided to the city by the ACLU, give speakers
specific nonsectarian words to use and urge them to avoid "divisive" language.
Blair-Loy said the city's instruction sheet doesn't use strong enough language when cautioning
speakers what to avoid.
Mayor Sam Abed said it was important for Escondido to make sure it was in compliance with state
and federal laws, but he also complained that the ACLU has a history of "crossing the line."
Councilwoman Marie Waldron, who spearheaded the council's revival of moments of reflection in
2005 after a roughly four-year hiatus, was more critical.
"I'm very concerned the ACLU wants to look at the content of speech by members of the public,"
said Waldron. "It's a violation of their First Amendment rights."
Waldron also said starting a government meeting off with a moment of reflection or prayer is a
long national tradition, noting that the U.S. Congress still engages in the practice.
"It's part of our nation's Judeo-Christian heritage," she said. "If people are frustrated they're
hearing Christian prayers every week, maybe they should ask their pastor or rabbi to start
But Russ Norman of the 200-member Baha'i Community of Escondido said last week that he's
never been asked to lead the council's moment of reflection, noting that he'd love to become a
regular participant. Norman said he's been asked by San Marcos, but never Escondido.
Dick Bridgman, who coordinates and recruits the speakers for Emmanuel Faith, said he reached
out to local religious leaders of many faiths when he took over the program in 2005. But
Bridgman said he hasn't recruited new speakers or non-Christian speakers "in a while."
However, he said all 12 speakers have been Christian this year primarily because other faiths
haven't taken advantage of the opportunity.
"It's open, but many people say no," he said. "Even some Christians have said no."
Bridgman said anyone interested in speaking should send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bridgman said he's provided the city's instruction sheet to speakers and he'll also begin
providing the new guidelines, but he can't be responsible for compliance.
"I can put out the guidelines, but I'm not going to go to every meeting and enforce them," he said.
Waldron said it took her six months to find Bridgman back in 2005. At that time, the moments of
reflection had been absent from council meetings for a few years after the previous program
coordinator died, former Mayor Lori Holt Pfeiler said last week.
Jerry Harmon, who served on the City Council from 1974 to 1998, said last week that Escondido
has a long tradition of beginning council meetings with a prayer or some sort of invocation.
"It's been common practice since well before 1974," said Harmon. "I don't recall it ever being an
Blair-Loy, the ACLU attorney, said he was alerted to Escondido's situation by a concerned
citizen, and that he concluded the city was breaking the law when he noticed a clear pattern
Blair-Loy said he doesn't monitor how every city in the county handles its moments of reflection.
But he said speakers at Oceanside council meetings stopped frequently invoking Jesus in 2006
after a letter from the ACLU, which he called evidence that Escondido could follow suit.
How did Mr. Blair-Loy earn his "civility" award (see article
below) from the San Diego Bar Association?
This seems to be
Blair-Loy's message to
Dan Shinoff: If I
support you in private
lawsuits, and do
nothing (except maybe
talk to the
students and teachers,
will you throw me a
bone now and then? A
friendly settlement? A
vote for a bar
The San Diego ACLU's new meek and mild attitude: it doesn't want to step on the
toes of lawyers for local schools:
Here are the
winners of our
Fiction 101 contest
Nov 09, 2011
Just a minute while I pull out
this IV drip. Now what were
you saying? Oh, don’t mind
her. She’s just the nurse.
She’s seen me naked
plenty of times. Go ahead,
get comfortable. Yes, it has
been a long time since I
was released. Sorry, I can’t
say any more about it.
Advice of counsel, you
know, and the statute of
limitations hasn’t expired
yet. For the record, it wasn’t
a goat. Can I get you
something to drink? Oops,
not that bottle. Trust me,
you don’t want to know. By
the way, I’m still available
for bar mitzvahs.
David Blair-Loy, Hillcrest
David Loy's email to Maura Larkins warning her to erase all
mention of Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz school attorneys in
San Diego and stop discussing them--even in her home!
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by Maura Larkins