The Lamp

Where truth can be shared.

Pro-life Protesters Will Get Their Day in Court

Posted by thelamp on June 18, 2007

Did police in a rural northeast Louisiana town violate pro-life protesters’ rights when the cops ordered demonstrators to stand farther from a highway? A federal judge must answer that question, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals wrote in an opinion last week.

The 5th Circuit overturned a district judge’s ruling in favor of the town of Columbia, which said demonstrators were obstructing a highway in front of the United Methodist Church on Feb. 12, 2005. Kenneth Coleman Sr. and the World Wide Street Preachers Fellowship say Columbia police were punishing the group because officers didn’t like their signs, some of which showed aborted fetuses.

“There is simply too much uncertainty about the motivations of the governmental action to determine whether a First Amendment violation took place,” the 5th Circuit said in its opinion for World Wide Street Preachers Fellowship v. Columbia, which was handed down June 6. “Many of the signs speak of the consequences of sin and the need for repentance. Some, however, are critical of abortion, homosexuals and women pastors.”

According to court documents, the Street Preachers Fellowship has insisted that members of its congregation were standing on its property while protesting, and police acted after a state trooper asked town police to move the demonstrators back from the highway and the white line at its edge.

Last week’s ruling was a victory because the court recognized that the First Amendment rights of pro-life citizens were threatened by the actions of local police. The evangelists know their rights and are willing to stand up for them.

Since 2003, the Street Preachers Fellowship has filed at least eight federal lawsuits in seven states – Louisiana, Kentucky, Utah, Georgia, Indiana, Pennsylvania and two federal courts in Michigan.



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