Law School Case Brief
Envtl. Planning & Info. Council v. Superior Court - 36 Cal. 3d 188, 203 Cal. Rptr. 127, 680 P.2d 1086 (1984)
The right of the states to regulate economic activity cannot justify a complete prohibition against a nonviolent, politically motivated boycott designed to force governmental and economic change and to effectuate rights guaranteed by the United States constitution.
Petitioner Environmental Planning and Information Council of Western El Dorado County, Inc. (“EPIC”) and its officers published a newsletter criticizing the editorial policies of a newspaper publisher, Detmold Publishing Company (“Detmold”), on environmental matters. EPIC’s readers were asked not to patronize businesses that advertised with Detmold. Detmold sued EPIC for intentional interference with economic relationship and libel. It sought injunctive relief and punitive and compensatory damages. EPIC moved for summary judgment, which was denied. EPIC sought a writ of mandate, which was denied by the court of appeals.
Can the State prohibit EPIC from publishing a newsletter criticizing the editorial policies of Detmiod and asking its readers not to patronize businesses that advertised with Detmold?
The court granted a hearing and issued an alternative writ. The court issued a writ of mandate and directed the Superior Court to vacate its order denying EPIC’s motion for summary judgment. The court directed the Superior Court to dismiss the suit. Applying common law principles, the U.S. Const. amend. I, and Cal. Const. art. I, § 2, the court found that EPIC’s activities were constitutionally protected. They constituted a politically motivated boycott designed to influence political expression and the behavior of private citizens. EPIC was entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law.
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