Judge prevents Baltimore from banning Catholic group demonstrations

Judge prevents Baltimore from banning Catholic group demonstrations

But the judge refused to set any court-ordered contractual terms for a rally. Hollander’s order said she “anticipates good faith negotiations, but expresses no opinion on the terms of a contract.” Cal Harris, a spokesperson for Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott, said the city will ask an appeals court to review the judge’s decision.

U.S. District Judge Ellen Hollander ruled late Tuesday that St. Michael’s Media Inc., also known as Church Militant, is likely to succeed on its claims that the city discriminated against it on the basis of its political views and violated its free speech rights. The judge’s order says city officials can’t prohibit the pavilion’s manager from contracting with Michigan-based St. Michael’s Media to use the venue for a rally and conference it plans to hold on Nov. 16. “We are disappointed by the Court’s decision and potential threat to public safety if this event ensues,” Harris wrote in an email. “The proposed rally is slated to take place on Baltimore City property, and we have a responsibility to protect our property and fellow citizens.”

The waterfront pavilion is across from a hotel where the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is scheduled to hold its national meeting Nov. 15 to Nov. 18. St. Michael’s said it deliberately picked the date and location for its rally to coincide with the bishops’ meeting. The group also said it held a peaceful, city-permitted rally at the same site during the bishops’ national meeting in 2018. BusinessEconomic institutes slash Germany’s growth forecastDeere & Co. workers go on strike after rejecting contract’As seen on TikTok’ is the new ‘As seen on TV’Biden tries to tame inflation by having LA port open 24/7

An advertisement for the planned rally has touted speeches by former Donald Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon and far-right agitator Milo Yiannopoulos. The city says the gathering poses a threat to public safety, arguing the fringe group cheered on rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol in January. The city also said Yiannopoulos’ speaking engagements attract counterprotesters and have led to violence and property damage, while Bannon “regularly calls for violence against government officials.” But the judge said the city “has presented somewhat shifting justifications for its actions, with little evidence to show that the decision was premised on these justifications.” The city seems to have based its decision on the “anticipated reaction” of counterprotesters possibly leading to violence at the rally, Hollander noted.

“The City cannot conjure up hypothetical hecklers and then grant them veto power,” she wrote. The judge also questioned the relevance of the city’s claims about St. Michael’s reaction to the Capitol riot. “The City never accuses St. Michael’s of actual involvement in the events of January 6, 2021. Rather, it is critical of plaintiff for its coverage and support of the occurrence,” Hollander wrote.

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