NEWS PROVIDED BYChurch Militant / St. Michael's Media
Oct. 13, 2021
BALTIMORE, Oct. 13, 2021 /Christian Newswire
/ -- Church Militant / St. Michael's Media, a Detroit-based Catholic news organization, has won its first amendment case against the city of Baltimore, Maryland.
Tuesday night, Judge Ellen Hollander handed down a legal victory by granting a preliminary injunction against city officials, who had interfered to quash the group's prayer rally, scheduled for Nov. 16 at the MECU Pavilion.
"Plaintiff has demonstrated a substantial likelihood that it will prevail on the merits of its free speech (Count I) and assembly (Count IV) claims under the First and Fourteenth Amendments," wrote the judge in her order. "[T]he balance of the equities favors plaintiff; and an injunction is in the public interest."
In a separate 86-page memorandum, she wrote, "The First Amendment to the Constitution is at the heart of this case."
"The judge clearly took her time to ensure that she got the constitutional issues right," said attorney Marc Randazza, who represented St. Michael's Media.
"I think that this is a great victory for the First Amendment," he added. "I had no doubt that we would prevail."
The court ruling comes after St. Michael's Media sued Baltimore, accusing it of fabricating a pretext to cancel the rally because the city — likely acting in collusion with the U.S. bishops, who will be holding their fall general assembly next to the MECU Pavilion on Nov. 16 — opposes the organization's message.
In his Sept. 27 reply brief, Randazza argued, "Defendants have provided no factual basis or evidence that any violence might occur at Plaintiff's rally — and no support for the notion that Plaintiff would cause enough violence to disturb a poorly positioned wine glass, much less enough to warrant a suspension of the First Amendment."
The court agreed.
After substantial analysis of precedent in her memo, Judge Hollander wrote, "I conclude that plaintiff is likely to succeed on the merits of its claim that the City was not viewpoint-neutral in barring the rally."
"City Defendants invoked controversial, inflammatory speech by rally speakers, as well as plaintiff's alleged support of the attack on the Capitol, as grounds for cancellation of plaintiff's event," she noted. "This is suggestive of viewpoint discrimination."
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SOURCE Church Militant / St. Michael's Media
CONTACT: Carmen Allard, MediaRelations@ChurchMilitant.com