by Steven Ertelt
April 18, 2007
Raleigh, NC (LifeNews.com) — A North Carolina man who said his free speech rights were denied when he tried to speak out against abortion is getting the help of a pro-life law firm to defend his rights. Alliance Defense Fund attorneys filed an appeal in federal court Friday on behalf of a citizen silenced for expressing pro-life speech on public property.
ADF attorneys originally filed suit on behalf of Dennis Green in 2005, after officials threatened him with arrest for not adhering to the city’s so-called “permit process.”
On Aug. 23, 2003, Green, along with some members of his friends and family, began to peacefully communicate a pro-life viewpoint on a public right-of-way. Raleigh police officers approached Green, who was carrying a sign and attempting to distribute literature concerning the issue of abortion.
The officers informed Green and the other pro-life advocates to cease their activities and leave the area or face a citation for violating a law which prohibits picketing without a permit.
They also told Green that his sign would be confiscated if he refused to leave.
“The Constitution does not require individuals to obtain governmental permission in order to exercise their First Amendment rights,” ADF Senior Counsel Nate Kellum told LifeNews.com in a statement. “Such laws are unconstitutional and serve only to stifle the speaker.”
“Under the First Amendment, speech is protected and does not require a citizen to adhere to a city-imposed ‘permit process,’” Kellum explained. “Further, it is ridiculous for officials to consider Mr. Green’s activities to fit the definition of ‘picketing’ as outlined in the city ordinance.”