Press Release

Claremont Institute’s Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence Files Lawsuit Challenging Political and Religious Discrimination by Western Justice Center and City of Pasadena

Claremont, CA—The Claremont Institute's Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence filed a complaint in federal district court today on behalf of the Pasadena Republican Club challenging political and religious discrimination by the Western Justice Center and the City of Pasadena (complaint available for download here).

In 2017, the Pasadena Republican Club contracted with the Western Justice Center for the rental of the Maxwell House in Pasadena to hold an event at which Dr. John Eastman was to be the speaker. Less than two hours before the event was scheduled to start, however, the executive director of the Western Justice Center (retired LA Superior Court Judge, Judith Chirlin) sent an email to the president of the Pasadena Republican Club cancelling the event.

Although the Pasadena Republican Club had been allowed to rent the property for speaker events in the past, retired Judge Chirlin explained that Dr. Eastman was unacceptable as a speaker because of his leadership position in a faith-based organization that promoted traditional marriage (National Organization for Marriage). Solely because retired Judge Chirlin disagreed with Dr. Eastman’s political and religious views, the Western Justice Center banned the Pasadena Republican Club from holding its event. Other political groups continue to meet at the property managed by the Western Justice Center.

The Maxwell House and neighboring historic properties are owned by the City of Pasadena and leased to the Western Justice Center “for public purposes” of the City. The City borrowed money that it granted to Western Justice Center for purposes of repairing and refurbishing these historic properties. In return, the Center paid rent to the City that repaid those loans. Now that the loans have been repaid, the Center pays only one dollar a month to occupy and manage this City-owned historic property.

“You would think the Western Justice Center would have been more prudent than to cancel a speech by one of the nation’s leading constitutional law experts who frequently litigates such issues before the Supreme Court,” said Ryan Williams, president of the Claremont Institute.

The Western Justice Center is a nonprofit corporation that creates programs for peaceful conflict resolution. The Board of the Center includes leading attorneys and current and former state and federal judges. Because the lease to the Western Justice Center is for public purposes, the Center is held to the same standard under the Constitution to which the City itself is held. The First Amendment prohibits discrimination on the basis of religious belief or political viewpoint.

With its mission to “restore the principles of the American Founding to their rightful, preeminent authority in our national life,” the Claremont Institute has for nearly 40 years been a strong and effective leader in the fight for limited government, free markets, and a strong and distinctively American foreign policy. Founded in 1979, the Claremont Institute publishes the Claremont Review of Books, sponsors the Publius, Lincoln, John Marshall, and Speechwriters Fellowships for rising conservative leaders, and administers a variety of programs and publications on politics and constitutionalism. Its Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence advances the Institute’s mission through strategic litigation.