Civil rights attorney questions Paladino removal

Cambria:Free Speech Can Be Controversial

BUFFALO, NY - While Carl Paladino's inflammatory statements have caused an uproar, they may not be enough to get him kicked off the Buffalo School Board says civil rights attorney Paul Cambria.

"Because their topic is controversial and maybe out of place and all the rest of it, the government still can't say we don't like what you said and as a result we're going to punish you," Cambria said, "the government cannot punish somebody or fire somebody because of the content of their speech as long as the speech isn't illegal."

Cambria says it would've been different if Paladino revealed a plan to hurt the President. That he says would've violated the law.

"If they say fire in a theater or in sight a riot with their speech then that would be illegal and they could be punished," Cambria said.

At a special meeting Wednesday, the school board plans to hire an attorney for the legal process of asking the state education commissioner to consider removing Paladino. MaryEllen Elia is allowed to remove a board member for a violation of a law or neglect of duty. The state school boards association says it is possible for the commissioner to consider removing a school board member because of the board's inability to function.

REPORTER: Is it an uphill climb for the school board specifically and  the legal representative that they intend to hire?

"Unless they can say they can point to a specific bylaw, or rule or something he violated what he says is protected by the first amendment," Cambria said.

Wednesday's special meeting will start at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall. There have been a lot calls to the state education department calling on the commissioner to remove Paladino. New numbers from state education say they've gotten 350 calls and 200 emails calling on the commissioner to remove him.

WGRZ reached out to School Board President Dr. Barbara Seals Nevergold on Tuesday evening. She would not comment on Attorney Cambria's points about the First Amendment protections of Paladino's statements. She says a discussion about the hiring of outside legal counsel is the only item on the agenda for the special board meeting.  


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