January 7, 2001
Odinance Restricting Pro-Life Freedom Ruled Unconstitutional
Elkhorn, Wisconsin: Federal Judge rules that ordinance under which 49 Christians were arrested is unlawful
On Friday, January 5th, 2001, Federal Judge J. P. Stadtmueller found a City of Elkhorn ordinance entitled "unlawful assembly" to be unconstitutional on its face. The ordinance was used by the Elkhorn Police on October 21st, 2000, to arrest 49 pro-lifers. Missionaries to the Preborn was demonstrating with large photographs of murdered preborn children as part of the groups monthly Unmasking Planned Parenthood Tour when police made the arrests. Elkhorn is located about 40 minutes southwest of Milwuakee in Wisconsin.
Bryan Brown, an attorney with American Family Association Center for Law and Policy based out of Tupelo, Mississippi, brought the constitutional challenge of the ordinance on behalf of those arrested.
The ordinance required a 30 day notice before any person or group could demonstrate within city limits. It also required a $500.00 fee and permission from the police chief in order to exercise one's First Amendment rights. Judge Stadtmueller stated that the "ordinance is a a two by four across the brow of the First Amendment face."
He found the ordinance unconstitutional because citizens would have to apply for permission to practice their First Amendment rights; because citizens would have to pay a fee in order to practice their First Amendment rights; because it established prior restraint; and it constituted a heckler's veto.
"This ordinance doesn't just paint with a broad brush. This ordinance is braoder than a brush - it's a streetsweeper." -Judge J. P. Stadtmueller, during the proceedings
"It is encouraging to see that the freedoms which good men fought, bled, and died to establish for us in this nation were upheld by this court. May we one day, by God's grace, see justice and freedom restored to the innocent preborn." -Pastor Matt Trewhella, founder of Missionaries to the Preborn.