Court Sides With Pro-Life Advocates Educating High School Students
by Steven Ertelt
November 26, 2003
Long Beach, CA (LifeNews.com) — A California court has initially sided with pro-life advocates who say they were wrongfully asked to leave an area nearby a local high school where they were holding up pro-life signs and distributing educational literature.
Federal Judge Edward Rafeedie of the Central District of California issued a preliminary injunction in favor of four pro-life advocates. They are represented by Catherine Short, Legal Director of Life Legal Defense Foundation.
The injunction prohibits the Long Beach Unified School District, a high school principal, six Long Beach police officers and the city from arresting or otherwise interfering with the pro-lifers "holding signs, distributing literature, and discussing abortion with students and others present on the sidewalk adjoining Millikan High School during school dismissal periods."
In September 2002, the four pro-life people were outside the high school. The police told them they were trespassing because the sidewalk was considered school property and the principal didn’t want them there.
When threatened with arrest, three moved to a sidewalk across the street, but Dan McCullough refused saying he had a First Amendment right to be there.
Eric Milton, one of the four, videotaped the conversation with police, who demanded that he relinquish the tape to them. The police initially took the tape from Milton, though he ultimately received it back.
The police and school argue the sidewalk next to the school is not a public forum and, therefore, not protected under the First Amendment. The plaintiffs right to free speech could also be restricted, they say, because the students were a "captive audience," the materials distributed were "offensive," and the sidewalk technically belonged to the school.
The district court rejected each of those arguments when granting the injunction.
Related web sites:
Life Legal Defense Foundation – https://www.lldf.org