A motion for summary judgment has been filed in federal court in Massachusetts seeking the end to a lawsuit by a coalition of Ugandan “gays” who contend an American pastor was not protected by the First Amendment when he was speaking in the United States about homosexuality.
The homosexuals claimed that Lively’s comments about homosexuality are “crimes against humanity” and are forbidden under international law. And they claimed that America’s Alien Tort Statute allows them to come into the U.S. and dictate what people say.
But the non-profit legal group Liberty Counsel asked for the judge to rule, because after “100 hours of depositions, and 40,000 pages of documents,” the Ugandan activists “failed to produce a shred of evidence of any conspiracy or persecution by Lively.”
“The evidence shows that Lively, in a country where homosexuality has been illegal for decades, urged treatment of LGBTI people with respect and dignity, and the liberalization of Uganda’s laws against homosexuality, even as he spoke in favor of biblical sexual morality and against the LGBTI political agenda.”
Liberty Counsel submitted nearly 200 pages of evidence, arguing there were no “crimes against humanity,” no violations of “international law,” and no conspiracies or plans to persecute “gays” in his statements during three visits by Lively to Uganda in 2002 and 2009.
The “gay” claims were based on the Alien Tort Statute, but the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled the provision “cannot be used to sue U.S. citizens alleging violation of international or foreign law,” Liberty Counsel argued.
“Neither Ugandan nor U.S. law provide a cause of action for SMUG, so SMUG is trying to create new precedent to punish speech,” by Americans in America, the legal team explains.
Mat Staver, chairman of Liberty Counsel, said the suit is “an attempt to silence Pastor Scott Lively because of his speech about homosexuality and pornography.”
“The implications of this suit are frightening because SMUG is trying to punish a U.S. citizen for constitutionally protected speech under some vague and undefined international law,” he said. “From the beginning this case had no merit, but we have had to spend four years and countless hours defending an innocent pastor against a lawsuit designed only to intimidate. This case is a direct assault on the supremacy of the United States Constitution.”
The motion states: “Through effusive rhetoric and optimistic surmise, plaintiff Sexual Minorities Uganda (‘SMUG’) obtained permission from this court to embark on a three-year transatlantic fishing expedition, which generated almost 40,000 pages of documents, tens of thousands of air miles, thousands of pages of deposition transcripts from over a dozen witnesses, and hundreds (if not thousands) of hours of work from SMUG’s imposing army of no fewer than 14 lawyers. The singular objective of SMUG’s titanic mission was to find in the murky and treacherous waters of ‘international law’ some – indeed any – connection between defendant Scott Lively and the 14 incidents of ‘persecution’ allegedly perpetrated in Uganda, by and against Ugandans whom Lively has never even met.
“The goal, according to SMUG, was never about the outcome but about the ‘advocacy’ along the way, meaning the severe punishment of opposing viewpoints with expensive litigation so that no one else, including Lively, would dare speak their conscience ever again.”
The gist of SMUG’s allegation was that “Lively, criminal mastermind, expertly manipulate[ed] the sovereign parliament and homophobic illuminati of Uganda to hunt down Uganda’s gays for violence, intimidation, and sport.”
However, “when it came time to ‘put up’ the evidence for its farfetched fairytale, SMUG was instead forced to admit – over and over again, by and through each and every last one of its testifying officers and directors – that SMUG came to this court with nothing, and that SMUG’s expansive expedition has revealed nothing.”
The brief states: “SMUG’s witnesses admitted, time and time again, that SMUG has no knowledge of any ‘communications,’ let alone ‘agreements,’ between Lively and the alleged perpetrators; that SMUG has no knowledge of ‘any assistance at all’ provided by Lively to the alleged perpetrators; and that SMUG has no knowledge of ‘any facts that would show that Scott Lively was responsible’ for any of these 14 incidents.”
The homosexuals also had raised the issue of the death of David Kato in 2011 in their lawsuit. He was a co-founder of SMUG, which made his demise “the centerpiece of their worldwide claims of persecution, unashamedly claiming – at international fundraisers and through media channels as diverse as the New York Times and Pink News – that Kato was killed ‘because of his work,’ two years after Lively fomented unprecedented levels of homophobia and hysteria in Uganda.”
The brief continues: “In this litigation, SMUG implied in no uncertain terms that Kato was killed because of Lively’s speech. … Under oath at their depositions, however, SMUG’s officers admitted that they have all known since 2011 – a year before filing this lawsuit – that Kato was killed by a homosexual acquaintance over a sexual dispute.”
Further, there are numerous jurisdictional, constitutional and legal grounds to sink the case, Liberty Counsel explained.
For one thing, SMUG’s claims “would require this court to inquire into the legality of officials acts of the sovereign government of Uganda and its officials, which this court cannot do.”
Then there’s the First Amendment.
“Lively’s alleged conduct is core political speech and is neither incitement nor integral to the commission of any crime,” Liberty Counsel said.
WND previously has reported on the circumstances that gave rise to SMUG’s challenge to America’s First Amendment. Lively had visited Uganda and exchanged ideas about homosexuality with leaders there. SMUG sued.
U.S. District Judge Michael Ponsor had rejected an initial move to dismiss the allegations, made by the George Soros-funded Center for Constitutional Rights in New York, which the New York Times described as left-leaning, saying that the allegations were substantive.