Settlement Reached in Pro-Life Activists’ Suit Against City of Birmingham

November 11, 2010

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (MetroCatholic) — Life Legal Defense Foundation today announced the settlement of the federal civil rights action it filed last June against the city of Birmingham, Alabama, on behalf of a group of young pro-life activists. The settlement includes payment to plaintiffs for both monetary damages and their attorneys’ fees.

The suit, filed in early June, arose from an incident in February 2009, when nine members of the Survivors (survivors.la), based in Riverside, California, were arrested and jailed overnight for displaying pro-life signs and handing out literature on a public sidewalk outside a high school in Birmingham. Rather than investigating the incident and admitting that the police had violated the Survivors’ rights, the city later filed misdemeanor trespass charges against them. These criminal charges were only dismissed after the federal lawsuit was filed.

In the course of seeking injunctive relief against future interference with the Survivors’ right to engage in picketing and leafleting on the public sidewalk, LLDF lawyers learned that the city had a “demonstration” ordinance that required groups as small as two persons to obtain permits before engaging in various free speech activity.

“What started as a lawsuit to get fair treatment for the Survivors evolved into a broader challenge to the city’s unconstitutional permit scheme,” said Katie Short, legal director of the Life Legal Defense Foundation. “We learned from local pro-lifers that this law had been a thorn in their side for years. We are pleased that this suit not only vindicated the Survivors’ rights, but also relieved the local pro-life community of the burden of this onerous law.”

The Survivors were represented by LLDF attorneys Katie Short and Allison Aranda, as well as by local counsel Phillip Jauregui and Caroline Allen of Jauregui & Lindsey in Birmingham. The case was Turn the Hearts v. City of Birmingham, No. 2:10-CV-01477-LSC.

Life Legal Defense Foundation is a non-profit organization composed of attorneys and other concerned citizens, committed to giving helpless and innocent human beings of any age, and their advocates, a trained and committed voice in the courtrooms of our nation. For more information call Allison K. Aranda at 951-541-9327.

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