It's been too long since I mentioned the ALLIANCE DEFENSE FUND on this page. They continue to take on liberal government supression of religious speech, often butting heads with the ACLU (though not in this case).
From the latest ADL news update:
HARRISBURG, Pa. — Sealing a victory for religious free speech, a federal district court judge issued a declaratory judgment Monday in favor of two preachers muzzled by city officials from speaking in a public park. An Alliance Defense Fund allied attorney represents the preachers’ organization of which one of the men, Pastor Jim Grove, is a part.
"Christian speech shouldn’t be treated differently than any other kind of speech," said ADF-allied attorney Leonard Brown of the law firm Clymer & Musser. "This ruling, coming after a jury found two police officers had violated Pastor Grove’s First Amendment rights when they arrested him, clearly shows that other Harrisburg officials violated this basic constitutional guarantee when they had a city police officer stop the two men from speaking near the event."
In 2003, Harrisburg officials restricted the speech of James Grove and Michael Marcavage as they expressed opposition to the "PrideFest" event in Riverfront Park, which celebrates homosexual behavior.
I find it ironic that anti-gay pastors ended up in court to defend their right to speak their religious beliefs. Have the oppressed now become the oppressors (and vice versa?)? I googled some more info about this incident. It seems that Volokh posted about this back in '04, with this interesting excerpt from The Christian Times:
The arresting officer, Stephanie Barrelet, who was filmed on video hugging other lesbian women entering the pride event, jailed Grove, Garisto, and Marcavage for several hours until the PrideFest event was over. Lymon, the first to be arrested, was cited and released.
He continues with excerpts from the Hanover Evening Sun, Jan. 10, 2004; see also York Dispatch, Apr. 5, 2004 (no links provided):
Harrisburg police say the pastors refused to obey their orders to stay more than 50 feet from the park. By lingering in the 50-foot zone and handing out literature, the preachers allegedly blocked traffic on an adjacent street and harassed some of the more than 5,000 people who attended the event.
Grove denies blocking traffic or pedestrians and testified police never warned him about lingering in the street.
Volokh concludes: "Some of the protesters' speech was repulsive ("Besides distributing literature, protestors carried signs such as 'GotAIDS yet?'"), and I'm sure there was other stuff in that same vein. But the speech was nonetheless constitutionally protected."
I don't have to agree with the speech itself, to understand the fundamental right to protest against something one considers offensive. Only when the "protest" speech incites violence or prevents anothers' right to speak is police involvement required to stop the speech. "Blocking pedestrians and traffic" is another type of infraction, which has nothing to do with free speech, and obviously unfounded in this case. This was simply over-zealous policing by a pro-gay officer, backed up by politically-correct city officials, and now the court has said as much.
GREAT JOB, LEONARD BROWN, and the ADF. There are not enough people like you out there, but you are appreciated here at LEAVWORLD.
A reminder to all: If you, your school, or your town are being targeted for your exercise of religious speech, don't get mad...call the ADF!
Other ADF news:
9th Circuit tosses out legal challenge to federal DOMA and Calif. marriage laws defended by ADF attorneys
Canadian professor loses bid to muzzle complaint he filed against pastor for “hate speech”
ADF: Lawsuit against UNC Chapel Hill officials on behalf of Christian fraternity prompted change
Linked at STOP THE ACLU Weekend Links, and Gribbit's Word Open TrackBacks 05.13.06