DULUTH, Minn. A federal court in Minnesota ruled Dec. 20 that Duluth doesn’t have the right to shut down free speech at an event in a public park whenever officials don’t like the viewpoint being expressed.
Last year, two men were passing out religious literature and sharing the Gospel with people at the annual Bentleyville Tour of Lights. After a police officer ordered them to leave, one event organizer told them that other people “don’t want to hear religious crap” and another offered to help the men meet Jesus more quickly. The city backed up the event organizers, but the federal court upheld the First Amendment.
According to the ruling, “if the governmental efforts to protect funeral attendees from inflammatory picketers cannot survive intermediate scrutiny, it is unlikely that the city could justify restricting the Plaintiff’s activities, which by all accounts, are peaceful and respectful.”
Alliance Defense Fund Litigation Staff Counsel Jonathan Scruggs applauded the ruling.
“The court made the right decision in suspending the ban,” he said, “so that people can share their faith in a nondisruptive manner at this year’s event.”