A federal judge in Michigan has ruled that police in the municipality of Plymouth Township were wrong to confiscate signs featuring pictures of aborted babies that were carried by pro-life advocates.
U.S. District Judge Victoria A. Roberts’ ruling states that police violated the free-speech rights of three pro-life demonstrators last July when they confiscated the signs as the demonstrators marched in front of a church attended by then-gubernatorial candidate Jennifer Granholm.
According to lawyers with the Thomas More Law Center, the Ann Arbor-based law firm that handled the case, the demonstrators were opposed to Granholm’s support for abortion rights. Police claimed the images on the signs violated a local ordinance prohibiting public displays of pornography.
Shortly after the incident, the law center filed suit, seeking an emergency temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against the township. Within 24 hours of the filing, Roberts granted the law center’s request, allowing demonstrators to resume displaying their signs in public.
Roberts then signed a permanent order Nov. 26, “ruling that the First Amendment protects the display of aborted baby signs and that the Plymouth Township police officers violated the U.S. Constitution when they prevented” display of the signs, said the law center in a statement.
Brian Burch, a spokesman for the law center, said the municipality would not be filing an appeal. “They’ve acquiesced,” he told WorldNetDaily. “They’ve admitted their mistake and will be cutting checks.”
Roberts also ordered the city to pay $39,545 in damages, attorney’s fees and costs. The demonstrators will split $23,000.
Burch said the names of the demonstrators were not released at their request.
Law center attorney Edward L. White III told WorldNetDaily he was pleased with the outcome, but that the most important aspect of the case was the protection of the demonstrators’ free-speech rights.
“This situation about taking demonstrators’ aborted-baby signs happens all over the country,” White said. “Hopefully, this case informs other police departments that you can’t violate pro-life advocates’ rights by depriving them from showing their signs in public.”
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