Charlotte, North Carolina Sued Over Denial of Permit for Rally Against Abortion
by Steven Ertelt
January 7, 2009
Charlotte, NC (LifeNews.com) — City officials in Charlotte are heading to court tomorrow to face off with pro-life attorneys suing on behalf of pro-life advocates denied a permit for an abortion protest event. Rev. Philip Benham of Operation Save America had applied for a permit for a rally marking the anniversary of Roe v. Wade.
Alliance Defense Fund allied attorney Frederick Nelson filed suit on his behalf against the North Carolina city which declared the event a demonstration instead of a festival because it included praise, worship, and preaching of the Gospel.
Because the citys ordinance permits festivals and not demonstrations, the city prohibited Benham from holding the event.
Nelson alleges the citys determination — that the religious and pro-life nature of the celebration constituted a demonstration and not a festival — is purely subjective.
He tells LifeNews.com that it is a violation of Benhams First Amendment rights and, in his oral arguments, he will ask the court to dismiss the city of Charlottes motion for summary judgment filed on July 31.
Christian groups shouldn’t be prohibited from publicly celebrating their beliefs, said Nelson. The government has no right to increase bureaucracy and discriminate against Christian groups simply because they are religious.
"A ruling against Benham would hand government officials the authority to unconstitutionally squelch Christian free speech using arbitrary standards. This would give the city the unbridled power to prohibit public celebrations based on their religious content," he added.
The hearing in the case of Benham v. City of Charlotte will take place at the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina.
Nelson is an allied attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund, a pro-life law firm litigating religious liberty and free speech cases since 1993. Nelson also serves as the president and general counsel of American Liberties Institute.
Related web sites:
Alliance Defense Fund – https://www.telladf.org
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