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Supreme Court won't hear case of Wayne County sheriffs vs. Christian protesters

May 16, 2016

The U.S. Supreme Court said Monday it will not hear a case where Wayne County sheriffs were found to have violated the First Amendment.

The case goes back to Dearborn's Arab International Festival in 2012. A group called Bible Believers showed up and told the mostly-Muslim crowd that their prophet was "a pervert," and that Muslims were going to burn in hell.

Some hecklers threw plastic bottles at the protesters. Eventually, police told the protesters to leave or be arrested for disorderly conduct.

The protesters sued, alleging they were simply exercising their freedom of speech. A lower court and an appeals court rules against the protesters, but a full panel of federal appeals court judges found in their favor.

Robert Muise, the attorney for the Bible Believers, says if police are able to silence speech simply because that speech is being met with “violent opposition,” then “we’ve effectively eroded the First Amendment, and we’ve now incentivized those who would engage in violence. In our civilized society, the proper response to speech you dislike is not to engage in violence – it’s to engage in more speech.

“The First Amendment should be viewed in a way that protects the speaker and protects the First Amendment, and requires the government to take steps to protect the First Amendment and not to silence it at the hands of these violent hecklers.”  

Wayne County didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.