Here are highlights for December. As you can see, while most people were enjoying the Christmas holiday, we were busy at work fighting for faith and freedom!
* On December 1, we had our final pretrial hearing in our case defending six pro-life rescuers who are being prosecuted in state court in Southfield, Michigan for a rescue they did at an abortion center in April 2022.
At the close of the hearing, the court issued multiple rulings that will impact the trial, which is now scheduled for February 21, 2023.
These rulings include denying the prosecutor’s motion to exclude testimony regarding opinions on abortion and permitting counsel to question prospective jurors on their beliefs about abortion.
We also successfully challenged the loitering charge, which was dismissed.
However, the court denied our request for instructions on defense of others and necessity, thereby creating an issue for appeal should the rescuers be found guilty.
The rescuers now face charges of trespassing, resisting/obstructing an officer, and interfering with a business.
* On December 6, we argued before a panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco making the case that the Biden administration had conspired with Twitter to censor speech critical of the Biden administration’s COVID vaccine policies.
In this appeal, we are arguing that the district court erroneously dismissed our client’s lawsuit alleging that President Biden and Twitter conspired to have Twitter censor our client’s speech on behalf of the government in violation of the First and Fifth Amendments.
In the lawsuit, Dr. Colleen Huber, a licensed naturopathic medical doctor, dared to cite news articles suggesting bad outcomes attributed to COVID vaccines in Israel and that these outcomes were underreported by the Israeli government.
At oral argument, we argued quite emphatically that Twitter and the Biden administration are effectively asking the Court of Appeals to ignore the facts and the law in upholding the lower court’s dismissal of our class action lawsuit.
The reality is clear: the lower court dismissed our client’s complaint by simply ignoring the factual record of an outright conspiracy to have Twitter act as President Biden’s government censor by permanently shutting down Dr. Huber’s Twitter account.
* On December 7, we filed a civil rights lawsuit in federal court in Idaho against the City of Moscow, Idaho, and several of its officials for the selective enforcement of the law motivated by the City’s and its officials’ hostility toward our clients’ conservative political and religious viewpoints and religious beliefs.
Our clients were arrested and prosecuted for posting “Soviet Moscow” decals in the City as a protest to the City’s draconian COVID restrictions imposed during the pandemic.
* On December 9, we filed our claims of appeal in our case defending four pro-life rescuers who were unjustly convicted of a felony offense for their peaceful rescue at an abortion center in Flint, Michigan.
This case has been ongoing for many years. The rescue occurred in June 2019.
Each rescuer was sentenced to 45 days in jail.
Our appeal will raise many important constitutional issues.
* On December 9 we also argued before a panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in our appeal challenging the Covid-19-related “health” orders forbidding group protests. Then Governor Cuomo and NYC Mayor de Blasio forbade protests against the COVID-19 restrictions but promoted, and even participated in, the Black Lives Matter protests.
During the litigation, the City and State defendants told the court that they had decided not to enforce the current restrictions against Geller.
This ploy is typical of government actors. After a plaintiff sues for a violation of the Constitution, the government tells the court that the case is moot and should be dismissed because the government has ceased the constitutionally offending behavior.
* On December 13, we appeared in state court in Southfield, Michigan in our case defending six pro-life rescuers. The jury trial was scheduled to commence this day. We had prepared for it for weeks.
However, there were not enough jurors in the jury pool to seat a panel of 7 (6 juror and 1 alternate) given the controversial nature of the case and the fact that the parties had 36 preemptory strikes.
As a result, the jury trial was rescheduled for February 21, 2023.
During the time in court, we went on the record and were able to convince the court to accept our proposed jury instructions on the charges over objections from the prosecutor, and we also argued other issues regarding evidence that the court took under advisement.
*On December 15, we filed a reply brief in support of our application for leave to appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court in our ongoing legal battle for religious freedom on behalf of Catholic Healthcare International (CHI).
Genoa Township (Michigan) convinced a local state court judge to order CHI to cleanse its 40-acre, rural property of religious symbols and to prohibit CHI from using this property for any organized religious worship (“organized gatherings”).
The state court judge allowed the enforcement of the Township’s zoning ordinance to trump fundamental rights secured by, inter alia, the Michigan Constitution.
The Michigan Court of Appeals refused to hear our appeal of this temporary injunction, so we are seeking review in the Michigan Supreme Court.
* On December 20, the judge presiding in our federal civil rights lawsuit filed against Genoa Township on behalf of CHI denied the Township’s motion to dismiss the majority of our claims, including the main claims arising under RLUIPA (a federal law that prohibits religious discrimination in land use) and the U.S. and Michigan Constitutions.
That same day, the federal judge granted in part our request for a preliminary injunction, enjoining the Township from enforcing its prohibition on “organized gatherings,” thus clearing the way for CHI to once again use the property for religious worship, which it did the very next day.
Unfortunately, the judge denied our request to return the religious symbols to the property, holding (incorrectly) that the claims were not ripe. As a result, we filed an immediate appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, challenging this ruling.
* On December 21, we filed a petition for writ of certiorari in the U.S. Supreme Court, asking the Court to review our case challenging the draconian restrictions imposed by Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer during the recent COVID pandemic.
The lower courts refused to rule on the merits of the case, holding that the challenge was moot now that the pandemic was over.
We are pursuing this review because these unlawful restrictions are capable of repetition, and we can’t allow these “emergency” powers to become the new norm for the next “crisis.”
* On December 23, we filed a motion for an injunction pending appeal in our federal CHI case, seeking to restore the religious symbols to the property.
* On December 30, we filed a response in opposition to the government’s request that our appeal of the denial of a preliminary injunction in our challenge to the vaccine mandate filed on behalf of four Navy SEALs be held in abeyance since President Biden signed the NDAA, which ended the mandate.
We opposed the request because the signing of the NDAA does not remedy the past and ongoing harm to the SEALs caused by the mandate nor does it ensure that Biden will not reinstate a similar mandate later.
* We’re back! With the purchase of Twitter by Elon Musk and his pledge to stop the censorship of conservative voices, AFLC has once again joined Twitter. You can find us at @aflc_freedomlaw. Please follow!
Thank you for your prayers and financial support. We couldn’t do what we do without them!