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— by Ted Ted
As to the irreparable injury and inadequate remedy at law, the federal courts have consistently held that the potential chilling effect on free speech constitutes a clear threat of irreparable harm, for which there is no adequate legal remedy. Indeed, in Christian Legal Society v. Walker , 453 F.3d 853, 859 (7 Cir. 2006), the Seventh Circuit stressed:

 “The loss of First Amendment freedoms is presumed to constitute an irreparable injury for which money damages are not adequate and injunctions protecting

First Amendment freedoms are always in the public interest.”

Id. (emphasis added), citing  Joelner v. Village of Washington Park, 378 F.3d 613, 620 (7th Cir. 2004), and Elrod v. Burns, 427 U.S. 347, 373 (1976)(“The loss of First Amendment freedoms, for even minimal periods of time, unquestionably constitutes irreparable injury”). Accord Brownsburg  Area Patrons Affecting Change v. Baldwin , 137 F.3d 503, 507 (7th Cir. 1998).

Plaintiff has met his burden of demonstrating that he will suffer irreparableharm in the absence of preliminary injunctive relief and that he lacks an adequate legal remedy. The pending charges target his protected expression, and the anxiety of the trialand potential fine inhibit his speech. Defendants’ actions also have a chilling effect on thespeech of other union members who may want to voice their opposition to Local 57 but fear that they risk being subjected to charges and trial, like Plaintiff Price – who is an elected delegate serving on the District Council. As the United States Supreme Court declared in the context of the discipline and ultimate removal of an elected union official:
[T]he potential chilling effect on Title I free speech rights is more pronounced when elected officials are discharged. Not only is the fired official likely to be chilled in the exercise of his free speech rights, but so are the members who voted for him.... Seeing Lynn removed from his post just five days afterhe led the fight to defeat yet another dues increase proposal, other members of the Local may well have concluded that onechallenged the union’s hierarchy, if at all, at one’s peril. This is precisely what Congress sought to prevent when it passed the LMRDA. “It recognized that democracy would beassured only if union members are free to discuss union policies and criticize the leadership without fear or reprisal.”-7-Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association v. Lynn, 488 U.S. 347, 355 (1989), quoting United Steelworkers of America v. Sadlowski, 457 U.S. 102, 112 (1982).

Irreparable injury and inadequate legal remedy have been demonstrated here. Next, the Court finds that Price has a reasonable likelihood of success on the merits. Section 101(a)(2) of the LMRDA, 29 U.S.C. § 411(a)(2), provides:

Every member of any labor organization shall have the right to meet and assemble freely with other members; and to express any views, arguments, or opinions; and to express at meetings of the labor organization his views, upon candidates in an election of the labor organization or upon any business properly before the meeting, subject to the organization's established and reasonable rules pertaining to the conduct of meetings. 

In a recent unreported opinion (which discusses Supreme Court cases interpreting the LMRDA), the Seventh Circuit explained the goal of this provision. Title I of the LMRDA developed from legislation “aimed at enlarged protection for members of unions paralleling certain rights guaranteed by the Federal Constitution,” and restates “a principal First Amendment value-the right to speak one's mind without fear of reprisal.” Marshall v. Local 701 Intern. Broth. of Elec. Workers, – F.3d –, 2010 WL 2853348 at *3 (7th Cir. July 21, 2010), citing Finnegan v. Leu, 456 U.S. 431, 435 (1982), and quoting Sadlowski,457 U.S. at 111.

In providing these protections, “Congress sought to further the basic objective of the LMRDA: ‘ensuring that unions are democratically governed and responsive to the will of their memberships.’“ Marshall, 2010 WL 2853348 at *3, quoting  Lynn, 488 U.S. at 352, and
Finnegan, 456 U.S. at 436.