Controversial pastor Terry Jones wins legal ruling against Dearborn

The Detroit News/September 3, 2013

By Oralandar Brand-Williams

Detroit -- A federal judge has issued a victory to controversial Florida pastor Terry Jones.

U.S. District Judge Denise Page Hood on Friday issued a summary judgment in favor of Jones and his organization, Stand Up America Now, against the city of Dearborn for requiring Jones and his organization to sign a city-issued agreement in order to speak on public property in front of a Dearborn mosque last year.

Jones had sought to speak on a public area in front of the Dearborn Islamic Center and distribute fliers on April 7, 2012, Holy Saturday. Jones completed a “Special Events Application and Request Form” Feb. 16, 2012, to comply with the ordinance requiring event sponsors to get a permit from the police chief.

A month later, Jones and his associate were told they would have to sign a “Hold and Harmless” agreement in order to speak on the public property area.

Jones has maintained said he should not have been forced to sign an agreement in order to speak on public property.

Page Hood agreed, saying the “City of Dearborn’s (Ordinances) are declared unconstitutional and are in violation of Plaintiff’s First Amendment rights.”

Jones’ attorney Richard Thompson of the Thomas More Law Center in Ann Arbor said: “Judge Hood’s ruling upholds a bedrock principle of the First Amendment, that government cannot inhibit the expression of an idea just because some find the idea offensive.”

Thompson added, “the fact that some may find Pastor Jones a controversial public figure or object to his message is even greater reason for Dearborn officials to ensure his right to free speech was protected.”

Dearborn city officials declined to comment.

Jones has been a frequent visitor to Dearborn, demonstrating against what he calls “radical elements of Islam.” He has received national media attention for burning copies of the Quran and for promoting an anti-Islam film.

Metro Detroit Muslim leaders have urged their communities to ignore what they call “hate-filled” speech.

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