December 3, 2014 — The antiabortion-rights group Pro-Life Mississippi has filed an appeal with the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals after a lower court judge denied the group's request for protection from alleged police harassment, the Jackson Clarion-Ledger reports.
Pro-Life Mississippi claims that Jackson, Miss., police officers regularly order antiabortion-rights protesters affiliated with the group to leave public property and arrest them when they fail to comply. The group claims that the police actions violate the protesters' constitutional rights to assembly and free speech.
The Life Legal Defense Foundation in July filed a federal lawsuit against the Jackson Police Department on behalf of Pro-Life Mississippi. The suit requested injunctive relief pending a trial, which is tentatively scheduled for summer of 2015.
U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves denied the request on Oct. 27, and LLDF filed an appeal last week.
LLDF attorney Allison Aranda said in a statement that Reeves "ignored the main issue of this case, which is whether or not free speech activity can constitute a legal obstruction on the public sidewalk."
Jackson Police Chief Lee Vance did not comment on the case. However, attorneys for the city have denied all of the allegations against the department (Le Coz, Jackson Clarion-Ledger, 12/2).