Month in Review – March 2019

Here are the highlights for March:

*On March 12, AFLC filed a First Amended Complaint in our lawsuit against the Michigan Attorney General and the Director of Michigan’s Department of Civil Rights, adding additional allegations, which include a statement posted by Dana Nessel, the Michigan AG, on her Facebook page shortly after the lawsuit was filed.

More specifically, Nessel demonstrated her political bias by stating:

“Only in Trump’s America do you get sued for pledging to prosecute hate crimes and pursue organizations that engage in illegal conduct against minority communities.  I will never back down on my commitment to protect the safety of all Michiganders.  Bring it.”

As the First Amended Complaint notes:

“Nessel’s Facebook post confirms the challenged policy directive, it confirms that pursuant to the challenged policy directive she is ‘pursu[ing] organizations that engage in illegal conduct against minority communities,’ and it confirms that she considers [AFLC] to be one of the ‘organizations that engage[s] in illegal conduct against minority communities.’”

AFLC’s lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan.

It alleges that the challenged policy directive, which targets AFLC as a “hate” group based on a false designation by the left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center, violates AFLC’s fundamental rights protected by the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution by unlawfully targeting AFLC based on its political views and the political views of those it represents in court.

The Michgan AG and Director have until April 17 to respond to the lawsuit.

*On March 19, the federal judge presiding in our case Zastrow v. City of Toledo, in which we are representing two pro-lifers who are challenging the City’s enforcement of state and local laws to suppress their right to engage in free speech activity on the public sidewalk outside of a local abortion center, entered a Consent Judgment and Order that fully protects the pro-lifers’ constitutional rights.

In the Order, the judge enjoined the City:

“from enforcing any and all code provisions, specifically including the following provisions of the Ohio Revised Code: Menacing (ORC § 2903.22), Obstructing Official Business (ORC § 2921.31), and Disorderly Conduct (ORC § 2917.11); and the following provisions of the Toledo Municipal Code: Criminal Trespass (§ 541.05), Disorderly Conduct (§ 509.03), Loitering (§ 509.08), and the Anti-Noise Law (§ 507) (collectively referred to as the “Code Provisions”) as applied to the non-obstructive, expressive activity of pro-life demonstrators, including Plaintiffs, on the public fora adjacent to the Capital Care Network . . .”

The City is also required to pay AFLC $7,500 in attorneys’ fees and costs.

This was a complete victory!

*On March 22, we filed our notice of appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in our lawsuit challenging SMART’s rejection of our clients’ “Leaving Islam” bus ad.  We filed the notice the day we received the adverse ruling.

It is important to note that it took more than five years for the judge to rule, and this ruling came because we filed a writ of mandamus in the Sixth Circuit, asking the circuit court to order the district court judge to do her job.  The Sixth Circuit “invited” the judge to respond to our petition within 28 days, and on the 28th day, the court finally issued its ruling.  You can read more about our lawsuit here.

*We are drafting multiple motions in preparation for our trial in Fatihah v. Neal, where we are defending the Neal’s against a lawsuit filed in an Oklahoma federal court by the ACLU and CAIR.

The Neal’s own a gun range in Oklahoma, and they banned Fatihah from their range.  Fatihah is a Muslim and a CAIR-Oklahoma board member who came to the range armed with a military-style rifle and a loaded handgun to create a controversy with the Neal’s so they would refuse him service.  Fatihah tape-recorded the interaction.  This lawsuit was a set up from the beginning.

After the Neal’s denied Fatihah service because he was engaging in reckless and threatening behavior and because the Neal’s later learned that he was associated with CAIR, an organization that federal, state, and foreign governments have acknowledged has ties to terrorism, the ACLU and CAIR sued the Neal’s for religious discrimination.

The case is set for trial on July 9th of this year.

*We continue with court appearances, depositions, briefs, and motion practice in many other cases as well.

Thank you for your prayers and financial support.  We couldn’t do what we do without them!