CPR for Skid Row v. City of Los Angeles

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Civil Rights § 1983
  • Date Filed: 03-10-2015
  • Case #: 12-55289
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Clifton for the Court; Circuit Judge Dorsey; Partial Concurrence and Partial Dissent by Circuit Judge Reinhardt
  • Full Text Opinion

Under § 403 of the California Penal Code, it is not a crime to disrupt a political meeting if no violence or force is used.

CPR for Skid Row (“CPR”) is an organization that advocates for the legal rights of the individuals living in the downtown Los Angeles neighborhood called Skid Row. The Central City East Association is a separate non-profit that organizes walks through the neighborhood for educational and political purposes. CPR opposes these walks because they are demeaning to the residents of Skid Row, and they promote the misconception that the homeless residents are criminals. At a protest of the walks, one of the members of CPR was arrested, and later released, under California Penal Code § 403, for the disruption of a public meeting when he yelled in the face of a walker. CPR subsequently filed a lawsuit claiming that § 403 was unconstitutional. The district court found that § 403 was constitutional. On appeal, CPR and the other plaintiffs argued that § 403 is unconstitutionally void for being too vague on its face. The Ninth Circuit examined this issue and disagreed, determining that § 403 was sufficient on its face. However, while constitutional, the panel determined that the statute was incorrectly applied to CPR in this case. Legislative history and the clear language of the statute demonstrate that § 403 does not apply to political protests such as the one at issue. The panel explained that, while it is illegal for one to prevent political meetings with force or threats, there is no crime when one engages in a non-violent protest as CPR did here. REVERSED AND REMANDED.

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