United States District Court, W.D. Texas, San Antonio Division
ORDER ON MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
RODRIGUEZ, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
date, the Court considered Defendant City of San
Antonio's motion for summary judgment (docket no. 31),
Plaintiff San Antonio Firefighters' Association, Local
624's response (docket no. 39), Defendant's reply
(docket no. 42), Plaintiff's supplemental response
(docket no. 50), Defendant's supplemental reply (docket
no. 51), and both parties' arguments on August 20, 2019
(docket no. 53). After careful consideration, the Court
GRANTS Defendant's motion with respect to all claims.
San Antonio Professional Firefighters' Association (the
“Union”) is a labor union and the exclusive
bargaining agent for firefighters employed by the City of San
Antonio. Docket no. 26 at 2. The undisputed facts are that on
February 20, 2018, the Union launched the “San Antonio
First” ballot initiative. Id. The initiative
sought various amendments to the City of San Antonio's
municipal charter such as requiring the city to agree to
arbitration in the event of an impasse in collective
certify such a charter amendment petition and submit the
measure to voters, state law requires the signatures of five
percent of the qualified voters in the municipality, or 20,
000 signatures, whichever number is smaller. Tex. Loc.
Gov't Code § 9.004(a).
March 2018, Union representatives began to gather those
signatures along the walkways outside branches of the City of
San Antonio Public Library System (the “library”)
as well as the Northeast Senior Center (the “senior
center”), a facility operated by the City's
Department of Human Services. Docket no. 31-2 at 16-23;
docket no. 31-3 at 3.
the library and senior center had policies governing such
political activities on their grounds. In 2013, the library
established a policy of “allowing the use of portions
of the exterior grounds of library property by the public for
free speech activities including campaigning, political
statements, announcements, speeches, and distributing
literature.” Docket no. 31-1 at 1, 5. The policy
directed library supervisors and branch services coordinators
to select a “Free Speech Area … to allow for a
full range of freedom of speech activities while also
affording adequate protection to the efficient functioning of
the library.” Id. The policy provided no
further guidance concerning the placement of the free speech
areas, such as directing branch managers to consider size of
the available space or distance from the library. Docket no.
31-2 at 3-7; docket no. 50-1 at 86.
contrast to the library's free speech areas, there is no
such zone on the grounds of the senior center. Docket no.
31-3 at 4; docket no. 31-3 at 4, 9. Because the City's
senior centers receive federal grants, they are subject to
Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services regulations
barring distribution of “political materials” and
prohibiting political campaigning unless each political party
running is given an equal opportunity to participate. 40 Tex.
Admin. Code § 85.309(d). The senior center's policy
(the “Political Activity Policy”) with respect to
activities inside the senior center is intended to protect
the centers from “political pressure, to prohibit use
of City of San Antonio resources for political purposes, and
to avoid the appearance of bias or favoritism." Docket
no. 31-3 at 9. The policy prohibits the centers from
"endorsing] any candidate, party, or issue" and
prohibits the presentation and posting of political and
campaign materials. Id. at 9-10. The senior center
manager must approve in advance anyone that wants to make a
presentation at the senior center. Docket no. 50-2 at 54-55.
library staff encountered Union representatives gathering
signatures outside their building entrances in March 2018,
staff gave the representatives a copy of the Free Speech
Policy and requested that they relocate to each library's
Free Speech Area. Docket no. 31-2 at 16-23; docket no. 31-3
at 4-5. Similarly, the senior center staff informed the
representatives that signature gathering was prohibited on
senior center grounds and requested that the representatives
relocate to the nearest public sidewalk. Docket no. 31-3 at
5. In some instances, the Union representatives refused to
relocate, and the library and senior center staff called the
San Antonio Police Department. Docket no. 31-2 at 16-23;
docket no. 31-3 at 5. The police issued verbal trespass
warnings and threatened arrest but did not arrest or charge
any representative with a crime. Docket no. 31 at 13.
addition, shortly after the Union representatives began
gathering signatures, the library distributed signs to each
branch manager to post on library grounds, informing library
patrons of their rights with respect to any petitions on
library grounds. Docket no. 31-1 at 6.
Petition Drive Information
Individuals may be around this area attempting to gather
signatures for petitions. Please be aware of the following:
• You should be allowed to read the petition before you
agree to sign or not.
• You should not be pressured or intimidated into
• You should not be offered any money or anything of
value in exchange for your signature.
If you have any concerns about petition gathering please
contact the City of San Antonio at:
(210)-207-8952 or (210)-207-5066
19, 2018, the Union filed its Original Complaint, docket no.
1, which was amended on October 18, 2018. Docket no.
The Union brings free speech and retaliation claims under the
First Amendment, an unconstitutional vagueness claim under
the First and Fourteenth Amendments, and free speech and
vagueness claims under the Texas Constitution. Id.
The City now moves for summary judgment on all claims. Docket
Standard of Review
Court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. To establish that there is no genuine issue
as to any material fact, the movant must either submit
evidence that negates the existence of some material element
of the non-moving party's claim or defense, or, if the
crucial issue is one for which the non-moving party will bear
the burden of proof at trial, merely point out that the
evidence in the record is insufficient to support an
essential element of the non-movant's claim or defense.
Lavespere v. Niagara Machine & Tool Works, Inc.,
910 F.2d 167, 178 (5th Cir. 1990). Once the movant carries
its initial burden, the burden shifts to the non-movant to
show that summary judgment is inappropriate. See Fields
v. City of S. Hous., 922 F.2d 1183, 1187 (5th Cir.
court to conclude that there are no genuine issues of
material fact, the court must be satisfied that no reasonable
trier of fact could have found for the non-movant, or, in
other words, that the evidence favoring the non-movant is
insufficient to enable a reasonable jury to return a verdict
for the non-movant. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). In making this
determination, the court should review all the evidence in
the record, giving credence to the evidence favoring the
non-movant as well as the “evidence supporting the
moving party that is uncontradicted and unimpeached, at least
to the extent that evidence comes from disinterested
witnesses.” Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods.,
Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 151 (2000). The Court “may not
make credibility determinations or weigh the evidence”
in ruling on a motion for summary judgment, id. at
150, and must review all facts in the light most favorable to
the non-moving party. First Colony Life Ins. Co. v.
Sanford, 555 F.3d 177, 181 (5th Cir. 2009).