Worthy Christian News » US News » Lawsuit Filed To Protect Right to Display Graphic Images of Aborted Children
(GREAT FALLS, MONTANA, TUE, AUGUST 21, 2001) --- Several pro-life advocates and their minor children filed a federal lawsuit today against an assistant city attorney and two police officers who ordered them to remove signs displaying images of aborted children. The case received national attention among pro-life groups when the assistant city attorney, accompanied by two police officers, ordered the signs removed, claiming the signs were a public safety hazard and violated the law. The plaintiffs had been displaying their signs in front of a Planned Parenthood abortion facility in the City of Great Falls.
The lawsuit was brought by the Thomas More Law Center, a public interest law firm specializing in pro-life litigation based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Pleadings filed with the court allege that, on August 10, 2001, an assistant city attorney, accompanied by two uniformed police officers, "ordered" the pro-life demonstrators "to remove their signs displaying images of the aborted children or they would be 'cited' and the signs would be 'confiscated.'"
According to Robert Muise, associate counsel with the Thomas More Law Center handling the case, "These signs make it hard to ignore or trivialize abortion. We want to make it clear that the First Amendment protects the rights of pro-lifers to peacefully speak out against killing the unborn by showing people that abortion is truly an act of violence that results in the death of a child.
The Thomas More Law Center had faxed a letter on August 16, 2001, to the Mayor of the City of Great Falls, with copies to the City Attorney and members of the City Commission, explaining the constitutional rights of the pro-life demonstrators and demanding written assurance that city officials would not limit, in any way, their right to demonstrate with signs displaying images of aborted children. The city did not respond to the letter.
The lawsuit seeks damages and a declaration by the court that the city attorney and the police officers deprived these pro-life demonstrators of their rights guaranteed by the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. It was filed pursuant to a federal civil rights statute that protects persons from deprivation of their constitutional rights by others acting under the color of state law.
Richard Thompson, Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center indicated, "Numerous calls from pro-life demonstrators from across the country have been received reporting police interference with demonstrators displaying graphic images of aborted children. This lawsuit should send a clear message that the First Amendment does not permit government officials to take the law into their own hands and deprive pro-life demonstrators of their rights guaranteed to them under the U.S. Constitution."