FAC Seeks Review of Ninth Circuit Decision that Upholds Law that Prohibits Car Honking at Protests

Contact: fac@firstamendmentcoalition.org

Today the First Amendment Coalition filed a petition for rehearing en banc to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals requesting the court reconsider the panel’s decision on April 7 ruling against our client, Susan Porter.

This case, originally filed in June 2018, challenges a state law that bans the “expressive” use of car horns. In October 2017, our client, Susan Porter, was cited for violating Section 27001 of California’s Vehicle Code after honking in solidarity with fellow protesters who were demonstrating outside of U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa’s San Diego-area district office. 

In a federal lawsuit, Porter asserts a First Amendment right to express herself through horn use. After initially letting the case proceed, the district judge ruled in favor of the government, finding Section 27001 is a permissible, content-neutral regulation. On appeal, Porter’s attorneys argued that the statute is a content-based ban on expressive horn use that must be subject to strict scrutiny, the highest level of judicial review of government restrictions on constitutionally protected activity. And even if it were subject to the less stringent intermediate-level of scrutiny, enforcement of the statute in Porter’s case would not pass constitutional muster, her attorneys argued.

In April 2023, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against our client. We now seek a rehearing from the full Ninth Circuit.

Read the petition for rehearing en banc.

Read a Q&A about this case with FAC Legal Director David Loy.