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 WND Exclusive
Court gives 'Small Victories' right to posters
Ruling throws out ordinance limiting displays at parades

Posted: May 19, 2007
1:00 a.m. Eastern

 2007 WorldNetDaily.com 

A federal court has ruled that an ordinance in Granite City, Ill., targeting abortion protesters violates the First Amendment, and the law firm working on the case brought by Angela and Daniel Michael of the Small Victories" pro-life ministry is pleased.

Tom Brejcha, the chief counsel of Chicago's Thomas More Society, called the ordinance a "transparent" attempt to censor the Christian message of the Michaels.

The city law, "Ordinance Regulating the Location or Size of Signs During Certain Parades" was struck down by U.S. District Judge William Stiehl, who ruled although it "appear[ed] content-neutral on its face," the ordinance was not "narrowly tailored and amounted to a 'heckler's veto.'"

"There is no valid argument that an 8 by 11 inch sign is the least restrictive alternative available to meet the goals of free pedestrian traffic, unobstructed views by parade goers and public safety," he concluded.

The Michaels, their family members and others wanted to use the various city parades during the year as a way to present their pro-life message to officials and leaders who participate in those parades.


The ultrasound van Small Victories parks in front of Granite City's abortion clinic

They also park their ultrasound-equipped van on the street in front of an abortion clinic and try to convince women and girls to miss their abortion appointments, as well as conduct sidewalk counseling outside "Hope Clinic for Women," a huge late-term abortion provider based in Granite City that attracts abortion-bound women and girls from all over the Midwest.

Brejcha told WND that the abortion business is huge because while surrounding states have parental notification laws, Illinois does not.

As WND has reported, the ministry, which also has taken photographs of abortionists, clinic employees and customers over the past 14 years, recently was called on to provide evidence in what could be a criminal case.

Bryant, Ark., Det. Jimmy Long has confirmed it was a photograph provided by the Small Victories ministry that helped secure a case against suspect Jeffery Cheshier, 41, who had been accused by an underage girl of rape.

She reported he forced her to go to the Hope abortion business in Granite City for an abortion, but there was no physical evidence until Long ran across a reference to the Small Victories ministry and he checked their web site.

When he contacted the pro-life group, they were able to provide photographs, with an identifiable license plate number, of the suspect's car at the abortion business at the time the girl claimed she was taken there.

The ordinance would have limited pro-life posters to the size of a sheet of copy paper.

The newest court ruling doesn't end the Small Victories case against the city, however, because the Michaels have alleged the city's actions during a November 2005 Christmas parade "amounted to a restriction of [their] First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and religion because [city officials] withheld police protection and threatened to charge [the Michaels] with assault."

They were able to hold up their posters at recent parades, including the 2006 Labor Day event, because of the pending court case and a court order allowing the signs.

Brejcha told WND that the signs are typically about three feet across, but there was no evidence they obstructed anyone.

"We're always gratified to come out on the winning end," Brejcha told WND. "To say that it's expected is a little strong on our part. In abortion-related litigation we've come to expect the unexpected."

"We are very pleased that the Michaels have finally prevailed against this transparent effort to frustrate their very effective and eloquent pro-life advocacy," said a statement from the law firm. "And if we can't reach a just settlement on all the remaining issues in this case, we'll pursue the matter aggressively through trial where we expect to prevail as well."

To support and encourage Daniel and Angela please contact them - 
smallvictories@juno.com (email), 618-654-5800 (phone), 
or write them Small Victories P.O. Box 143 Highland, IL 62249.