Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Arab Christian Group Claims First Amendment Rights Denied On Public Property - in Michigan!

Arab Christian Group Claims First Amendment Rights Denied On Public Property - FOXNews.com

The article gives you the full story. Here's the abridged version:

Dearborn's big Arab International Festival. Attracted 300K+ people last month. City police tell Arab Christian Perspective group they cannot distribute literature on the sidewalks during the festival, but only at their rather limited booth. Temporary injunction denied.

ACP Group now suing city of Dearborn.

The usual complaints were reported: They littered the streets; they interfered with traffic; they were a nuisance. The group's views were maligned. The MSM feels obliged to do that, I suppose. But the legal ramifications were, surprisingly, quite clearly presented:

"...two First Amendment experts said sidewalks are usually considered "traditional public fora" in which distributing materials is considered protected speech, and the city's defense of its action does not appear constitutionally strong.

"It is a bedrock First Amendment principle that public sidewalks must generally be open for the exchange of information and ideas," said Tim Zick, a law professor at the College of William and Mary and author of "Speech Out of Doors: Preserving First Amendment Liberties in Public Places."

"Distributing literature is, without question, a form of protected speech," Zick said. "Indeed, some of the earliest free-speech cases upheld the right to distribute literature on the public streets and sidewalks, to audiences that were not always pleased with the messages."

UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh said allowing religious groups to rent stalls did not preclude them from distributing literature on the sidewalks.

"The existence of an option to rent a stall doesn’t let the city take away a group’s right to leaflet," he said. "Leafleting can reach a broader audience than the stall can, since leafleters can walk around.

"Leafleting is also free. City of Ladue v. Gilleo, a 1994 Supreme Court precedent, makes clear that such cheap means of speech generally can’t be restricted on the grounds that the speaker can still use other, materially more expensive (and less effective) forms of speech," Volokh said.

Yes, indeed: It is quite clear that the decision of the city of Dearborn is one that violates the First Amendment rights of a Christian group. I wonder if Dearborn's leaders would have made the same decision if it were that group of al-Qaeda lovers who had requested permission to distribute leaflets?

Which of our current state leaders will stand up for Arab Christian Perspective?

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