A judge in Washington state has tossed a criminal “noise” complaint against an evangelist who preaches regularly outside a Planned Parenthood abortion business.
A Benton County District judge ruled the city of Kennewick’s noise ordinance unconstitutionally restrains speech that “annoys” the comfort, repose, health or safety of the public.
The street preacher, Eric Schonbachler, “posts a sign with a picture of a baby, offers religious tracts, and delivers religious speeches without any amplification,” according to Pacific Justice Institute, which represented him.
In November 2018, a Kennewick police officer confronted Schonbachler outside the clinic and informed him of the noise ordinance regarding elevated voices. Schonbachler respectfully told the officer that he retains his First Amendment rights to deliver his speeches.
The officer then cited Schonbachler for “loud and raucous, and frequent, repetitive, or continuous sounds made by the amplified human voice.”
But when the case arrived in court, the judge found the terms of the ordinance do not describe the human voice, nor Schonbachler’s protests and preaching.
Jorge Ramos, Pacific Justice Institute’s attorney in Seattle, represented Schonbachler in court and filed the motion to dismiss that was granted.
“We are pleased with the favorable court ruling for this public evangelist who simply desires to share hope and truth with the women who end up at Planned Parenthood’s door. PJI is strategically positioned along the Pacific Coast to preserve the fundamental rights of U.S. citizens to freely share religious speech in public fora,” said PJI President Brad Dacus.