Pro-Life Groups Drop Lawsuit Over Democratic Convention Protests

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 2, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Pro-Life Groups Drop Lawsuit Over Democratic Convention Protests

by Steven Ertelt Editor
June 2, 2004

Boston, MA ( — Pro-life organizations have dropped a lawsuit they filed saying their First Amendment freedoms were being violated as a result of regulations put in place regarding protests at the Democratic convention where John Kerry will be named the party’s nominee for president.

The lawsuit was dropped after the city agreed with representatives of the Christian Defense Coalition and Operation Rescue to simplify the protest permit process and loosen the restrictions somewhat.

The city had originally put in place a three-step process organizations must go through to obtain valid permits to protest, according to an Associated Press report.

Groups had to submit an application to the Office of Consumer Affairs and Licensing, obtain permits from other appropriate city departments, and then wait on approval from the licensing office.

Applications were due 14 days before the protest.

But representatives of the pro-life groups said that would prevent them from engaging in so called "spontaneous protests" — counterprotests of events organizers learn of days or hours beforehand.

Boston officials have put in place a new permit process for the "spontaneous" demonstrations that satisfied the pro-life groups.

"Although we were are thankful the city of Boston has agreed to this settlement, it is troubling to realize that we had to file a federal lawsuit to protect free speech and civil liberties during the [Democrat convention]," Rev. Patrick Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition, said.

Merita Hopkins, lead attorney for the city, said Boston officials had been working with the ACLU and other free speech advocates to alleviate the concerns.

"There really wasn’t a need for a lawsuit," Hopkins told AP. "We’ve had an open process from the beginning."

The Christian Defense Coalition also plans to attend the Republican convention in New York. There, the group will hold a prayer vigil and attempt to gather enough people to circle Madison Square Garden, site of the convention where President Bush will be nomination to run for a second term as president.