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Terry Jones Wins Lawsuit Against City of Dearborn

The founder of the Dove World Outreach Center filed a lawsuit against the city of Dearborn for violating his 1st Amendment rights.

Pastor Terry Jones. Photo Credit: Ian Kushnir.
Pastor Terry Jones. Photo Credit: Ian Kushnir.
A U.S. District Judge ruled Friday that the city of Dearborn violated Florida pastor Terry Jones’ First Amendment rights by forcing him and representatives from Stand Up America Now to sign an indemnification agreement before Jones and co-founder Wayne Sapp planned to speak in the city last year.


Judge Denise Page Hood said that a city ordinance that required Jones to sign the indemnification agreement before speaking outside a Dearborn mosque was a violation of the First Amendment's freedom of speech and expressive association clause, and an ordinance requiring the police chief to grant a special permit only after the indemnification agreement was signed also violated Stand Up For America Now's constitutional rights.

Jones and Sapp planned to speak out and denounce Shariah law from the grassy median in front of the Islamic Center of America on April 7, 2012, the day before Easter on the Christian calendar. They also planned to distribute fliers with a biblical verse and the group’s contact information.

The Thomas More Law Center, a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, filed a lawsuit against the city and Dearborn Police Chief Ronald Haddad on behalf of Jones, Sapp and Stand Up America Now on April 2.

Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, applauded Hood’s decision.

“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. This principle is in stark contrast to those nations ruled by Sharia law," he said.

"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. So despite the fact that Dearborn has one of the largest concentrations of Muslims in America, the city should have protected Pastor Jones’s right to free speech, not contrive a way to impede it," Thompson said.

Hood issued a summary judgment in favor of the plaintiffs and against the city. She ruled that the plaintiffs can’t be required to waive their rights to hold the city liable for its conduct, and that the hold harmless agreement would require the plaintiffs to assume legal and financial responsibility for anything that happened at the event outside their control, including the city’s actions.

Attorney Erin Mersino, who handled the case, said, "Judge Hood in her ruling clearly recognized that our clients were subject to the unbridled discretion of the city's legal department, and that in order to exercise their constitutional rights to free speech on public property, they had to surrender many of their other civil rights.

“This requirement was not only unconscionable; it was unconstitutional," he said.

The law firm previously represented Jones and Sapp in November 2011 when they were arrested by Dearborn police. Nineteenth District Judge Mark Somers ordered that the men sign a “peace bond” as part of their appearance, which was overturned on appeal.

Mary Laundroche, director of the city's Department of Information, said city officials have no comment on the judge's ruling.

Judge Hood’s entire 12-page ruling can be read here.

Jones and Sapp have visited Dearborn numerous times to speak out against the Muslim religion. Most recently they requested a meeting with Edsel Ford High School Principal Scott Casebolt to address alleged bullying by Muslim students.

The duo were planning to attend the Arab International Festival on June 14 in Dearborn, but the American Arab Chamber of Commerce decided to cancel this year’s event due to logistical issues.

Jones and Sapp are planning to burn 2,998 Qurans in Florida as part of a public relations stunt on the 12th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Pam September 03, 2013 at 05:55 PM
Thanks again to our illustrious Mayor and his brilliant legal department. We will be paying thousands for Pastor Jones' legal fees and costs.
Pam September 04, 2013 at 08:44 AM
I care very much that our scarce tax dollars go to pay for ill advised local government overreactions to this fool.
Sharon Rice September 04, 2013 at 09:53 AM
I am sure I am not understanding this correctly: The Muslim husband is permitted to have (4 wives) and a temporary wife for an hour (prostitute) at his discretion. What I want to know is if he is married to the prostitute for the duration of the sex... Why does she get stoned if caught? Isn't she MARRIED to him at the time? I always thought two were required for marriage among other things. The Shariah Muslim law controls the private as well as the public life of the woman. In the Western World (America, Canada and Britain) Muslim men are starting to demand Shariah Law so the wife can not obtain a divorce and he can have full and complete control of her. To prove rape, the woman must have (4) male witnesses. This seems to be just plain stupidity and an insult to men. Would 4 men just stand around and allow that to happen, if so, then they should be punished along with the rapist, not the woman. Muslim men surely have respect for their fellow men to not allow rape.
Marci September 04, 2013 at 10:26 AM
And once again, Dearbornites will put the Mayor back into office to make more bad decisions using citizens tax dollars. Yet they want to complain their are no other viable candidates. You do have choices so vote on the other candidate. OReilly has made too many expensive decisions why vote on him again?????
Marium Wilke September 04, 2013 at 10:46 AM
Dearborn against the First Amendment!!!!!! WoW What and Who was he thinking of...And was he born here and raised here?....Did he learn about the Freedom of Speech?...I said this before stop throughing politics into what is right and what is wrong..Mr.Mayor and all is under hus direction read the Constitution it was written for a reason..I guess there goes some more money we don't have and who's money is that OURS....Have we put a very demeaning label on our Beautiful city?...No freedom of speech here...
Sharon Rice September 04, 2013 at 11:56 AM
Naruyn did you not read the article? “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. This principle is in stark contrast to those nations ruled by Sharia law," he said. I assume you are not a native born American, or you would understand this. Why do you want to be ruled by Sharia law anyway?
Daniel Lai September 04, 2013 at 04:47 PM
Some comments have been deleted because they violate our terms of use.
Aridog September 04, 2013 at 05:14 PM
I am no fan of O'Reilly, but I do appreciate Chief Haddad. I am a Catholic. I find it ludicrous that a federal judge finds in favor of a book burner in a free speech case. I guess its whose speech not what speech, eh? Now we're open season for every cracker idiot from out of state who deigns to visit us and use our resources for their personal benefit.
Lee Jacobsen September 05, 2013 at 02:16 AM
Aridog, you can always visit Terry's turf and return the favor of free speech. Better yet, you can do it as a minister, even though you are a Catholic. The Universal Life church has a simple creed, "do only that which is right', and since determining right and wrong is partly a personal decision, it is hard to find fault with your own personal church. Ordination is free, or get the special deal on the 'basic ministry package' for $40. More info here http://www.ulc.net/ I have thousands of old Newsweek and Time magazines which can be considered the 'fountain of mis-knowledge'. No doubt burning them (with a permit of course!) will release the mischief contained within. Remember, it is your right to define and express your religion , just as it is Terry's right to burn his quorans to believe in his expression of free speech. Both scenarios are attention getters and a waste of time, designed to bait and hook. Dearborn got hooked. In America, we have the right to waste our time anyway we choose, right? Terry Jones is doing exactly that......
Sharon Rice September 05, 2013 at 08:26 AM
government cannot inhibit the expression of an idea just because some find the idea offensive. AKA/democracy. After all we have to listen to Betty whine about the airport.
Aridog September 05, 2013 at 12:18 PM
Sharon ... really? A cake eating itinerant coward-punk preacher man can travel here and incite disturbances over something that does NOT exist here...e.g., Sharia Law. What is he protesting? Why does he demand police protection? And he does demand it. By the way, we are NOT a "democracy", we are a Republic where local jurisdictions care allowed to effect laws and rules for their own protection. As far as government inhibition of free speech, what is that the IRS is currently accused of again? I do admire your faith, misguided as it is in fact.
Joseph Nazar September 05, 2013 at 12:24 PM
Sharon: do educate yourself before commenting. Reading the Quran would be a good start. You know nothing about Islam, yet you declare that Shariah law controls each aspect of a woman's life. Explain how it does. A woman may indeed divorce her husband. If a wife works, she may keep all her earnings, while a husband must give all his to the maintenance of the family. If a man accuses a woman or his wife of anything, she can swear she didn't do it, and she would be exonerated.
Joseph Nazar September 05, 2013 at 12:29 PM
I'm a 3rd-generation American who converted to Islam. I'd love to hold a demonstration of my fellow Muslims right in front of the headquarters of Mr. Jones' faith group, or that of any patriotic association. Freedom of speech, doncha know...
Aridog September 05, 2013 at 10:17 PM
Joseph & Sharon... Sharia Law is irrelevant to Dearborn, it is NOT the law here and never will be the law. Those morons who assert that it is in effect here are ill informed, whether or not they are familiar with the tenants of Sharia. Sharia is NOT the law here. Period.
Sharon Rice September 06, 2013 at 10:57 AM
Sharia Law may not be the law here now but Islam thrives Sharila law becomes law. It seems that if what Pastor Jones is discussing does not matter here, then why is it creating a disturbance? Hmmm maybe those true followers of Islam are upset and since...you know the rest. A woman is never exonerated un Sharia Law. She lives under the threat of upsetting her husband and getting a beating for nothing. She can only work, without reprisal for the clerics, if she has the permission of her husband. She cannot drive and go out in public alone...etc. Get raped and you better keep quite about it. If she can be stoned for adultry, and the man is not guilty because he can be married for an hour or however long it takes to finish his "business" why is she condemed...was she not also married? If she does not want to marry the one her parents have declared for her...she can be killed for bringing dishonor to her parents... If she gets divorced she has no family and the kids are his...she get shunned by everyone.
Lee Jacobsen September 06, 2013 at 12:10 PM
The Quran is the Muslim's bible. This link raises an interesting issue, that the last statements in the Quran take precedence over earlier peaceful statements, and is the reason for much discourse. Judge for yourself. http://www.citizenwarrior.com/2010/09/qurans-last-word-on-non-muslims.html Here are a few statements from the Quran, at the end of it, which means they have precedence. Am I wrong?? 9:73 Fight the disbelievers and hypocrites. Be harsh with them. They are all going to hell anyway. 9:81-83 Those who refuse to give their wealth and lives to Allah will face the fire of hell. 9:85 Those who refuse to fight for Allah will be treated (along with their children) as unbelievers. 9:111 Believers must fight for Allah. They must kill and be killed. Allah will reward them for it. 9:123 Fight disbelievers who are near you, and let them see the harshness in you. By the way, if you are unsure how to add links to a comment, google 'copy and paste' and follow the instructions.
Sharon Rice September 06, 2013 at 12:18 PM
I fear I can no longer share my true thoughts. I am shaking as I write this, my husband suspects it is I who is writing this.. I have not yet healed from the last discipline...God help me Allah won't. I believe I am a Christian and will probably die for it. Run while you can.
Capo Tony September 06, 2013 at 03:20 PM
How did america get here? How have people become either so ignorant or so corrupt. These people playing with the first amendment and using these tactic to deny citizens their most basic fundamental rights should be severely penalized to deter further infractions.
Dawn S. September 06, 2013 at 04:53 PM
Sharon Rice (or whoever wrote the 9/6 12:18 p.m. post) - CALL A WOMEN'S SHELTER NOW!! If you are truly being "disciplined" to the extent that you have to "heal", GET OUT! Grab what you can and LEAVE. It is illegal for one person to assault another. Sharia law, whatever it is, has no legal authority in this country.
Kate baseballmom September 06, 2013 at 04:55 PM
Sharia is against our constitution. If you don't like our laws get the hell out. Go back to those crap countries you came from. No Sharia! God Bless the Pastor for standing up for his rights.
Ken Pierpont September 07, 2013 at 07:58 AM
All the talk lately has been about Pastor Terry Jones who is calling on people to burn the Koran. I doubt these tactics are going to stop Islam in it’s tracks. Now Muslims are all up in arms and threatening great violence. We shouldn’t be like them. I say don’t waste your time burning the Koran. Such theatrics are cheap publicity stunts, not courageous acts. They are carnival acts, not acts of devotion. Read the Bible and teach it, proclaim it. It is living and powerful. It is life-changing. It is the very Word of the Living God. One day every knee will bow. Lift Him up and He will draw people to Himself. He is beautiful, we don’t have to be ugly about it.
A.Z. September 07, 2013 at 07:00 PM
Why can't we all just get along?
Marci September 07, 2013 at 08:46 PM
I agree AZ ~ everyone is right no one wrong:(. Personally I think the religious community, Muslim and Christian should invite him to a gathering and let him meet everyone, see the togetherness and show what is like to just get along. Put aside beliefs and see each other as humans.
John Holeton September 08, 2013 at 05:56 AM
I would just like to congratulate Terry Jones on his victory against the corrupt Dearborn Police Department. Hopefully, they will be thinking twice when they decide to trample on the constitution. When Terry Jones gets his settlement I hope that he builds a church in Dearborn. When he does I will be the first to join!!!!!!
Bob September 08, 2013 at 08:47 PM
I also agree with AZ. We should all get along. These guys could all come over to my place and we will cook up a few camels and discuss this.
Phyl September 08, 2013 at 09:31 PM
Thank you, Judge Hood. It was the right thing to do.
Lianne Mathie September 09, 2013 at 06:42 PM
As a Chrstian, i feel very sorry for the lost soul that Mr. Jones is. I would like to point out that Christ would never act or say the mean spirited things he does.

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