‘…preaching of the gospel on a public sidewalk is protected by our Constitution…’
(Joshua Paladino, Liberty Headlines) Judge Carol Bagley Amon rejected an injunction that disgraced former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman requested in order to shut down Christian, pro-life speech outside an abortion facility.
Schneiderman, who resigned in May after women accused him of sexual abuse, filed for the injunction against 13 Christians who preached the Gospel outside Choices Women’s Medical Center in Jamaica, New York.
Liberty Counsel represented the Christians who counseled women outside Choices, including Scott Fitchett Jr., a pre-K teacher who said he comes to the facility on Saturdays “to persuade women to change their minds about seeking an abortion by communicating the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
“Judge Amon’s order completely vindicates Scott Fitchett because he did nothing wrong,” said Horatio Mihet, Liberty Counsel’s vice president of legal affairs and chief litigation counsel. “Scott Fitchett’s preaching of the gospel on a public sidewalk is protected by our Constitution, even if it’s in front of an abortion clinic, and even though New York’s Attorney General despises it.
When Schneiderman announced the injunction in June 2017, he described what Fitchett and other Christians were doing as “horrifying” and “illegal,” and he stood against freedom of speech and opinion.
“We are not a nation where you can choose your point of view,” he said.
The New York Office of the Attorney General provided video evidence and testimony from escorts — people who take women past protesters outside abortion facilities — to argue that Fitchett and others had threatened and intimidated women as they entered Choices.
The OAG argued the defendant violated the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE) and similar New York laws.
Amon, a Senior United States District Judge, ruled on the case in the Eastern District of New York.
“The most problematic of the credibility issues discussed below is the tendency for the…OAG witness testimony to exaggerate the impropriety of the defendants’ conduct and to omit mitigating circumstances,” Amon wrote. “In this regard, it is notable that, despite the availability of hundreds of hours of video evidence, the OAG has not cited a single video that corroborates the witness testimony…Instead, the video evidence contradicts the escorts’ accounts of protestor conduct on specific occasions.”
Clinic escort director Mary Lou Greenberg testified against the Christians, but Amon found her statements “non-credible.”
Liberty Counsel revealed Greenberg’s bias before trial.
She is the spokesperson for the Revolutionary Communist Party, which adheres to a radical and violent ideology.
She even praised the murderous dictator Mao Zedong.
Liberty Counsel said the frivolous and unsubstantiated lawsuits came from Schneiderman’s connection with Choices president and CEO Merle Hoffman, who previously admitted that her clinic was in the business of “taking life.”
“The lawsuit against Fitchett was based on a lie and not even the bevy of Harvard-trained lawyers from the AG’s ‘Social Justice Division,’ a millionaire abortionist who has killed more than a million babies, a communist agitator who plans the violent overthrow of our government in her spare time, or the corrupt former Attorney General who publicly billed himself the Protector of Women everywhere, could silence Fitchett’s constitutionally protected preaching,” Mihet said.
The New York OAG used manipulative measures to obtain evidence against the defendants. Schneiderman accepted evidence from a woman who posed as a pro-life person on Facebook in order to gain evidence.
Although Amon denied the injunction, the New York OAG could still decide to press charges.
Amon, however, advised against it.
“In effect, the trial has already been held…the OAG has failed to establish a violation, the OAG is neither likely to succeed on the merits of that claim nor able to establish a sufficiently serious question going to the merits of that claim.”