Skip to comments.Appeals Court Rules Pastors Civil Rights Were Not Violated (WI)
Posted on 11/21/2006 10:28:30 AM PST by Diana in Wisconsin
MADISON, WI (AP) -- Madison police did not violate the civil rights of a Monroe pastor when they told him to take his anti-homosexual banners off highway overpasses in 2003, a federal appeals court ruled.
The ruling Monday by a three-judge panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Chicago, upheld a December ruling by U.S. District Judge John Shabaz.
That court said it was the spectacle and the traffic hazard the protest caused, rather than the message, that prompted Madison police to remove Ralph Ovadal, pastor of Pilgrims Covenant Church, and his group.
The banners stating "Homosexuality is sin" and "Christ can set you free" were unfurled on overpasses in September and October 2003. The demonstrations affected traffic below both times.
The ruling was the second by the appeals court in the case. In July of 2005, it sent the case back to Shabaz, who had dismissed the case without a trial.
The appeals court said then that it needed the benefit of a trial to determine whether the city violated Ovadal's free speech rights by ordering him to get off of the overpasses.
Judge Michael Kanne wrote at that time that police should have instead dealt with reckless drivers who caused the traffic hazards and that there was no "heckler's veto" of free speech.
Kanne wrote in Monday's decision that, after the trial before Shabaz, the court had enough evidence to find that police were responding to traffic hazards caused by reactions to Ovadal's banners and not to his message.
The city of Madison has since banned carrying any signs on bridges that pass over high- speed roads.
Nate Kellum, a Memphis, Tenn., attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund who represented Ovadal, said the ordinance hurt free speech not only for Ovadal but for others.
"It's a shame and a sad state of affairs that the city would go to such lengths to shut down free speech," Kellum said.
Information from: Wisconsin State Journal, http://www.madison.com/wsj
Very interesting, because I saw a guy dressed up as Jesus, dragging a cross across that very same overpass a number of days ago. I couldn't see what his message was, but you could see that huge cross from a mile away.
Haven't seen a thing about that in the news, so I'm assuming it was in line with the pro-liberal Madistan Agenda that's promoted daily in this city. *Rolleyes*
"Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." -Manuel II Paleologus
"The demonstrations affected traffic below both times."
Mmmm-Hm. Sure they did.
Let's get politically incorrect speech banned as a traffic hazard.
im sure he did pay to have that banner put on that bridge, so he did pay for his soapbox.
And we have banners over our bridges all the time in Rochester,NY, and it's not causing a traffic hazard.
And BTW, bridges are built with tax revenues, i pay taxes, i paid for that soapbox.
No surprise. As we all know, any public declaration made in Moscow on Mendota and not in comformity with the writings of Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Trotsky is anathema.
They're not allowed throughout CA.
Madison have now dealt with this in law to apply universally as well. Are they at fault for not having foreseen this as a problem? Likely.
Is the pastor a moron for pulling this stunt? Yes. He should've hired a private billboard rather than disrupt traffic and put lives at risk.
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