Carl Paladino is planning to bring a federal lawsuit against several organizations in the area. This lawsuit, being brought against the Board of Education, the Buffalo Parent Teacher Organization, and the New York State United Teachers union, alleges that Paladino is the victim of a conspiracy to retaliate against him due to controversial statements he made about President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. Paladino claims that the push to remove him from the Buffalo School Board as a result of these remarks is an infringement on his First Amendment rights to free speech. Constitutional attorney Paul Cambria spoke to WBEN about the pending lawsuit and what the First Amendment implications may be. The full interview is available on the WBEN website.
Lawsuit being filed
Mr. Cambria explained to WBEN that what is being filed is called a 1983 Action, “which is basically a statement that a government-affiliated entity or person is violating a civil right—here, most likely, the First Amendment.”
“I think that their position is that they’re going to go on the offensive,” Mr. Cambria said. “They’re going to file it in federal court, take it out of the state realm, and take the position that all these entities, which are government-affiliated, are conspiring to violate [Paladino’s] First Amendment rights. That he has a right to express himself and that he can’t be punished because of the content of what he’s saying.”
WBEN asked Mr. Cambria what next steps would be once the lawsuit is filed. Mr. Cambria explained that “the next step would be to move for a preliminary injunction and ask the federal court to enjoin [the Board of Education, the Buffalo Parent Teacher Organization, and NYSUT] from interfering with [Paladino’s] right to free speech. And that would be any and all actions that would try to punish or stop him from expressing himself lawfully.”
First Amendment rights
“I think it’s a good idea to file this in federal court,” Mr. Cambria told WBEN. “He can’t be punished because somebody doesn’t like what he has to say. That’s the essence of the First Amendment; that you can say something, it can be controversial, it can be unpopular, but the point is that’s exactly what the First Amendment was designed to do,” he explained.
“The answer isn’t to stop speech,” Mr. Cambria went on. “The answer is to have more speech, for other people to say things, to point out where they think he’s wrong, criticize him, whatever you want. But don’t try to stop him or punish him for exercising his First Amendment rights.”
About Paul J. Cambria, Jr.
The chair of Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria’s Criminal Defense Trials and Appeals Practice Area, Mr. Cambria advises clients on criminal trials, criminal appeals, constitutional and First Amendment law, zoning and land use, antitrust, and professional licensing defense. He divides his time between the firm’s offices in Buffalo and Los Angeles.