Court OKs dismissal of case tied to Michigan Arab festival

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

DEARBORN, Mich. A federal court says there was no First Amendment violation when police urged Christian evangelists to leave an Arab-American street festival in 2012.

Members of a group called Bible Believers were pelted with water bottles and rocks after they told Muslims they were "sick" and would "burn in hell." Wayne County authorities said they were concerned about the unrest and threatened to ticket the evangelists unless they left the Dearborn fair.

In a 2-1 decision Wednesday, the appeals court says the sheriff's office was trying to maintain order, not regulate public speech. The court upheld dismissal of a lawsuit.

Dissenting Judge Eric Clay says authorities were illegally exercising a "heckler's veto." He says the First Amendment wouldn't be needed if it applied only in a "well-mannered marketplace of ideas."

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