Here are the highlights for an exceedingly busy September:
* On September 2, a federal appellate court struck down a Bloomington, Minnesota ordinance that forbade photographing children in City parks, ruling that the ordinance is a violation of the First Amendment.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit sided with our client, Sally Ness, who regularly photographed activities on city property to share her concerns about overuse of the neighborhood facility by a local mosque and its associated school.
The timing of the passage of this ordinance made it clear that it was aimed at our client.
* On September 2, we filed a petition for rehearing en banc in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, asking the full court to hear our constitutional challenge to the mandate requiring K-12 students to wear masks during the school day. We are co-counsel in this case with the Great Lakes Justice Center, representing Resurrection School, a Catholic school in Michigan, and several parents.
* On September 9, we selected a jury in our case defending four Red Rose Rescuers who were on trial for trespassing at an abortion center in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
* On September 13, AFLC Co-Founder and Senior Counsel Robert Muise was the invited speaker at a meeting of the Great Lakes TEA Party. He discussed the various COVID-19 restrictions and how they are destroying freedom.
* On September 17, we successfully defended the Red Rose Rescuers! Following a day long trial that included the testimony of an abortion center manager, two city police officers, and three of the rescuers (as well as photographic and video evidence), the jury returned a unanimous verdict of “not guilty” for all four rescuers. The rescuers were represented by Muise.
* On September 17, we filed a motion for an award of our attorney’s fees in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit following our most recent victory defending the First Amendment in the case of Ness v. City of Bloomington.
* We had numerous filings and hearings this month in defense of Catholic Healthcare International, Inc.’s (“CHI”) religious freedom, which is under attack by Genoa Charter Township. It is shocking what is happening in this Township. Below is a summary of this most recent flurry of activity:
- September 19: We filed an emergency motion for a TRO/Preliminary Injunction in federal court to halt the removal of the religious symbols from the CHI property after learning late on Friday, September 17, that the Township ran to state court to get an order from a local judge to remove the symbols. On September 20, 2021, the Livingston County Circuit Court judge granted the Township’s ex parte (no hearing) TRO against CHI, ordering the removal of the religious symbols on the property and banning the use of the property for “organized gatherings.” That is, the court stripped CHI of its right to use its private property for religious worship.
- September 21: Meanwhile, the U.S. district court denied our motion for a TRO and reserved its decision on whether to also deny our motion for a preliminary injunction. We then immediately filed a motion in the state court matter to dissolve the TRO issued by the Livingston County Circuit Court judge.
- September 21: We filed an emergency motion to dissolve the TRO as CHI had a religious event scheduled for September 23 – an event that had been scheduled for over a year and which the Township knew about for many months. The state court refused to dissolve the TRO, but set a hearing for September 28, on whether to dissolve the TRO or grant the Township’s request for a preliminary injunction.
- September 27: We filed our formal response to the Township’s request for a preliminary injunction in the state court.
- September 28: A hearing in state court was commenced to determine whether the court should dissolve the TRO and permit the return of the religious symbols and worship on the property or grant the preliminary injunction to prolong the restriction on religious exercise. After several hours of testimony (and after a couple of hours of cross examination of the first witness), the Township suggested that there might be a way to resolve the issue. The court adjourned the hearing so that the parties could discuss a path forward that would permit CHI to return the religious symbols to the property.
- September 30: On September 29, 2021, the U.S. district court formally denied our request for a preliminary injunction, thus triggering our right to appeal. Accordingly, on September 30, we filed a notice of appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, seeking reversal of the district court’s denial of our request for injunctive relief. We also began drafting a motion for an injunction pending appeal.
* On September 23, Muise argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia in our lawsuit challenging Pennsylvania’s mask mandate and contact tracing program on constitutional grounds. This is an appeal of the lower court’s denial of our request for a preliminary injunction.
* On September 27, we had a status conference with the circuit court in Flint, Michigan, in our case defending four Red Rose Rescuers who are charged with trespassing (misdemeanor) and obstructing police officers (felony) for engaging in the time-honored civil rights practice of passive resistance while at an abortion center in 2019. Due to a backlog of in-custody cases as a result of COVID, we still do not have a trial date.
* During the month of September, we were only able to produce one new episode of our Videocast / Podcast series titled, “Faith and Freedom Fighters.” Please listen, subscribe, and pass the word!
* Throughout this month, we helped numerous students and employees submit and obtain religious objections to various vaccine mandates. We continue to work with several military members and others whose freedoms are now threatened by Biden’s most recent federal mandate.
Thank you for your prayers and financial support. We couldn’t do what we do without them!