On December 6, 2005, Benito Acosta (“Acosta”) spoke during a public comment period at a Costa Mesa City Council (“City”) meeting. Because of his behavior, he was asked to step down from the podium and leave the chambers. Acosta did not comply.
After rehearing, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit once again held that a city ordinance that makes it a misdemeanor for a speaker to engage in “disorderly, insolent, or disruptive behavior” at a city council meeting is facially invalid because it fails to limit proscribed activity to only actual disturbances. The court previously held that the ordinance need not be wholly invalidated because the word “insolent” could be removed without affecting the remaining portions. After rehearing, the court held the ordinance must be invalidated as a whole.
The new holding on rehearing was changed only slightly by removing the entire section of the municipal code in question. The outcome of the case, however, remained the same. The court concluded the ordinance was constitutionally applied to the arrested individual because his behavior actually disrupted the city council meeting. (Acosta v. City of Costa Mesa (--- F.3d ----, C.A.9 (Cal.), May 3, 2013).
For the complete facts of this case, please see our previous Legal Alert entitled, “Court Finds Ordinance That Prohibits Insolent Behavior At City Council Meetings Is Unconstitutional”, October 19, 2012.