The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has dismissed a First Amendment case filed against the Allegan Police Department by a group that tried to stage an anti-Islamic event at a high school.
The group was promoting a bill to ban Sharia law in Michigan, and it featured a speaker who claimed to be a former terrorist who converted from Islam to Christianity.
Allegan Police Chief Rick Hoyer shut down the event when he learned the speaker had been getting death threats, and possibly a $25 million bounty. He said that put too many people attending other functions at the school in harm’s way.
“We know we did the right thing, would do it again a million times over, and did it for the right reasons,” he said. “I don’t know how anyone in good faith could have the information we had in the environment we had it in – a school with events going on – and allow that to continue and put folks at risk.”
The court said the group did not present enough facts to back their claims that their free speech and assembly rights were violated.
The group includes Michigan Republican National Committeeman Dave Agema, who sponsored the Sharia law bill while he was a state legislator. The case was argued by the Thomas More Law Center, which advocates for “Christian rights.”
Richard Thompson of the Thomas More Law Center said the police should not have shut down the event.
“The appropriate thing to have done in that case is protect the speaker, not throw the speaker out of the school,” he said.
Thompson says he expects to make a decision soon on whether to ask the appeals court to reconsider or take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.