Sunday, November 01, 2015

Court Nixes Police Favoring Muslims vs. Christians

On June 15, 2012, Christian evangelists were ordered by police to leave the Arab International Festival in Dearborn, Michigan because some Muslims there perpetrated acts of violence against the Christians.  Last week, the 6th Circuit Appeals Court ruled in favor of Bible Believers against defendant Wayne County, Michigan.
“We find that defendants violated the Bible Believers’ First Amendment rights because there can be no legitimate dispute based on this record that the [police] effectuated a heckler’s veto by cutting off the Bible Believers’ protected speech in response to a hostile crowd’s reaction. . . . The video record evinces next to no attempt made by the officers to protect the Bible Believers or prevent the lawless actions of the [Muslim] audience.”
-- 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati
For background, read Federal Judge Muzzles Christians at Public Festival

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-- From "Christian activists win speech case tied to Arab festival" by The Associated Press 10/31/15

The case stems from a 2012 incident in which members of a group called Bible Believers were pelted with rocks while carrying a pig’s head and telling Dearborn Muslims at the street festival that they would “burn in hell.” Wayne County sheriff’s deputies told the evangelists to leave or be ticketed.

“From a constitutional standpoint, this should be an easy case to resolve,” said Judge Eric Clay, writing for the majority. “However, it is also easy to understand Dearborn’s desire to host a joyous festival celebrating the city’s Arab heritage in an atmosphere that is free of hate and negative influences.

“But the answer to disagreeable speech is not violent retaliation by offended listeners or ratification of the heckler’s veto through threat of arrest by the police,” Clay wrote.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Pig head-carrying Christians ejected from Muslim festival may collect damages" by Nader Ihmoud, Chicago Sun-Times National 10/29/15

Some [Muslim] members of the crowd responded by throwing plastic bottles, eggs and milk crates at the Bible Believers.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, Ohio, made its ruling based on the First Amendment, saying the evangelist group Bible Believers should have been protected even though its speech was loathsome and intolerant. The opinion also mentioned the obligation of police when confronted with constitutionally protected speech that threatens to incite violence.

“Bearing in mind the interspersed surges of ethnic, racial, and religious conflict that from time to time mar our national history, the constitutional lessons to be learned from the circumstances of this case are both timeless and markedly seasonable,” Judge Eric Clay wrote.

The opinion by the court on Wednesday overturned a lower-court judgment and sent the case back to a federal court in Detroit, where a judge will decide the damages.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Pig's head-carrying Christians ejected from Muslim festival may collect damages, 6th Circuit says" by Debra Cassens Weiss, ABA Journal 10/29/15

An en banc federal appeals court [review by 15 judges] has ruled that Christian evangelists who were “preaching hate and denigration to a crowd of Muslims” may collect damages because police told them to leave.

Police conferred with the Wayne County corporation counsel and told the Bible Believers they would be cited for disorderly conduct if they did not leave. More than a dozen officers escorted the group members from the festival.

The Constitution, however, does not allow “an angry mob of riotous adolescents to dictate what religious beliefs and opinions could and could not be expressed,” the court said. . . .

The court said Wayne County “effectuated a constitutionally impermissible heckler’s veto,” violating the Christians’ rights to free speech, free exercise of religion and equal protection.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Anti-Muslim group wins appeal in Arab fest case" by Robert Snell, The Detroit News 10/28/15

The case against Wayne County, Sheriff Benny Napoleon and members of the department [deputies Dennis Richardson and Mike Jaafar], originally was handled in Detroit by U.S. District Judge Patrick Duggan, who recently retired.

The full court agreed one year ago to reconsider the case after setting aside a 2-1 decision by a three-judge panel in August 2014.

In that opinion, the panel said sheriff’s deputies didn’t violate the evangelists’ free speech rights

Such rehearings are rare.

“We are reviewing the court’s opinion,” sheriff’s office spokeswoman Paula Bridges said in a statement Wednesday. “No decision has been made as to what next steps, if any, will be taken therefore we will refrain from comment at this time.”

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Court rules Bible Believers should not have been thrown out Arab American fest" by Khalil AlHajal, MLive Media Group 10/29/15

The lawsuit was originally filed in Detroit federal court by Ruben Chavez, Arthur Fisher, and Joshua DeLosSantos, a group known as the Bible Believers.

U.S. District Judge Patrick Duggan threw out the case, and an earlier appeals ruling upheld that decision, but the Wednesday opinion overturns the first two, ordering the case back to the lower court for calculation of damages.

"The only references to violence or lawlessness on the part of the Bible Believers were messages such as, 'Islam is a Religion of Blood and Murder,' 'Turn or Burn,' and 'Your prophet is a pedophile.' These messages, however offensive, do not advocate for, encourage, condone, or even embrace imminent violence or lawlessness," the majority found in an opinion written but U.S. 6th Circuit Judge Eric L. Clay.

"Although it might be inferred that the Bible Believers' speech was intended to anger their target audience, the record is devoid of any indication that they intended imminent lawlessness to ensue. Quite to the contrary, the Bible Believers contacted Wayne County prior to their visit, requesting that the WCSO keep the public at bay so that the Bible Believers could 'engage in their peaceful expression.'"

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

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