The Pasadena Republican Club is suing the city.

As reported by Pasadena Now, the Club had scheduled an event at the city’s Western Justice Center, for which it had booked the National Organization for Marriage’s John Eastman.

With only three hours before the night was to begin, according to a complaint filed Wednesday, the WJC canceled the event.

The lawsuit states that the WJC commonly rents out its property to various clubs, and that it chose to shut down the event due to discrimination on the part of retired L.A. Superior Court Judge Judith Chirlin, then-executive director.

Chirlin allegedly wrote in an email that the cancelation was due to the fact that the National Organization for Marriage’s beliefs were “antithetical” to that of the WJC.

As stated by Pasadena Now:

“The speaker, who is Dr. John Eastman, was also the chairman of the National Organization for Marriage, which is a faith-based organization advocating for traditional marriage,” (Club attorney Anthony) Caso said. “Because of that, Western Justice Center decided that, based on the viewpoints and the religious beliefs of the speaker, the Pasadena Republican Club could no longer meet in their facility.”
The lawsuit seeks an injunction to prevent the Western Justice Center or the City of Pasadena from continuing alleged discrimination, as well as punitive damages and damages due to “emotional distress.”

“Chirlin and Western Justice Center acted with malice, oppression, and wanton disregard of the law, intending to harm Pasadena Republican Club and its members for choosing a speaker who harbored beliefs contrary to those promoted by Western Justice Center,” the lawsuit states.

The suit insists that the WJC’s board is comprised of attorneys and judges, “who likewise are aware of the provisions of the United States Constitution and know that discrimination on the basis of political viewpoint and religious belief in the rental of public property violates the United States Constitution unless supported by a compelling governmental interest. Western Justice Center’s hatred of contrary political viewpoints and religious beliefs is not a compelling governmental interest.”

Elissa D. Barrett, WJC’s current director, issued a statement on the matter to Pasadena Now:

“When this matter arose more than 18 months ago, we believed that a fair and mutual accommodation had been reached. We have heard nothing from the plaintiff since then. We are disappointed that the plaintiff chose not to contact us before pursuing litigation, especially given the centrality of conflict resolution to our mission. … The Western Justice Center empowers people to resolve conflicts and to address forms of bias that often underlie those conflicts.”

Once the WJC and the city of Pasadena have been served, they’ll have 30 days to respond. Due to the holiday season, court hearings are expected to take place sometime early next year.

 

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