The San Diego Union-Tribune is reporting that our Sheriff has settled out of court with a local gun store owner. The article states that Dimitri Karras, owner of Ares Armor in Oceanside, sued San Diego County after sheriff officials deleted his combative comments from the Sheriff’s Department’s Facebook page and then banned him from posting further. Karras claimed it was a violation of his First Amendment rights because the Facebook page was run by a government entity and therefore a public forum for all taxpayers. Both parties agreed to dismiss the lawsuit, with the county paying $23,000 to Mr. Karras for attorney fees. The county admitted no wrong doing in the settlement and has permanently removed the Department’s Facebook page.
Sheriff’s Department spokesperson, Jan Caldwell stated, “This had the potential of going pretty far …”
Caldwell is correct. This case could have gone far, costing both sides hundreds of thousands of dollars to litigate but it also could have done something else. It could have brought more unwanted attention. What the article fails to mention is that the Sheriff has enough distracting litigation problems already as he continues to resist the 9th Circuit Court ruling in the Peruta decision. Seems the top law enforcement officer in the county keeps running into problems with the U.S. Constitution and our Bill of Rights.
The settlement with Mr. Karras had to do with his faulty understanding of the First Amendment.
Sheriff Gore does however support the Fifth Amendment. History records his office had jurisdiction in 1992 at Ruby Ridge where authorities wrongly killed the Weaver family dog, Weaver’s fourteen year old son, Sammy (who was shot in the back) and Weaver’s wife, Vicki, who was unarmed and holding their ten month old daughter. The court acquitted Weaver and found his greatest crime was missing a court date.
At the Senate Judiciary hearing the FBI Special Agent In Charge Eugene F. Glenn testiified to an FBI cover up. FBI Deputy Assistant Director Danny Coulson wrote in a memo during the siege, “Charge against Weaver is Bull Shit.” When the time arrived for William Gore to testify he pleaded the Fifth.
The U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights protect Americans from tyrannical government. The First Amendment acts as a pressure valve when encroachment on those rights are rightly or wrongly perceived. The Bill of Rights is not a “cafeteria plan” for individuals to pick and choose which ones they will honor. When government trespasses on any amendment it should expect an outcry from “we the people”.
The First Amendment does not exist within a void. It is based upon a view that freedom of expression is a positive good; that without it citizens are defenseless against capricious and tyrannical acts of government – which by having a monopoly on the legal exercise of force will be able to stifle dissent against actions which violate the rights of its citizens. In essence, the First Amendment exists to enable the exercise of rights which the founding fathers regard as unalienable, the rights to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Washington and many of our founders paid for these freedoms at great personal cost. San Diegans have an expectation that their highest Constitutional official will uphold and defend their unalienable rights in a traditional, not a progressive manner. The Sheriff should not be surprised when Ruby Ridge keeps coming back to haunt him. Our Bill of Rights is not a cafeteria plan. Ideas have consequences, some unintended.