Criminal Charges Against Pro-Lifers Dropped in South Dakota

State   |   Life Legal Defense Foundation   |   May 15, 2012   |   8:09PM   |   Pierre, SD

Last week, a citation for unlawful assembly against the pro-life advocacy group Missionaries to the Preborn was dismissed. The Milwaukee-based group conducts pro-life advocacy throughout the Midwest, and encountered trouble at their event in Sioux Falls.

Police cited Jason Storms, one of approximately 50 pro-life advocates engaged in outreach and education along a public street in the city. The citation relied on a city ordinance requiring a permit for groups of 10 or more persons engaged in public assembly.

Storms contacted Life Legal Defense Foundation (LLDF) Legal Director Katie Short, and informed her of the citation. Short spoke with the Sioux Falls city attorney, explaining that based on precedent in relevant case law the ordinance at issue was unconstitutional in its permit requirement. Following this conversation, the group was allowed to continue their demonstration. Later conversations with the city attorney resulted in the citation being dropped in its entirety.

“We are happy that the citation was dismissed,” said Dana Cody, Executive Director of the Life Legal Defense Foundation. “Once again it was a matter of the police and government going overboard in their attack on free speech. Pro-lifers shouldn’t have to be intimidated to speak out for the unborn.”

The ordinance at issue had been previously amended and was improperly invoked, even by its own terms, against the pro-life advocates’ activities. The City has stated that it will review the way the ordinance is being enforced.