Freedom on Bourbon Street
December 16, 2013
ORLEANS — A federal judge has
ruled on behalf of Center for Religious Expression client, Pastor Paul Gros,
recognizing that the City of New Orleans violated his first amendment rights in
outlawing Christian evangelism.
In 2011, the City of New Orleans passed
an “aggressive solicitation” ordinance with language that banned individuals
from congregating on Bourbon Street “for the purpose of disseminating any
social, political or religious message between the hours of sunset and
“This ordinance was uniquely egregious in
how aggressively it denied ordinary citizens their first amendment right to free
speech,” said CRE Chief Counsel Nate Kellum.
Paul Gros brought a lawsuit against the city in September 2012 after Pastor
Paul Gros was threatened with criminal arrest for sharing his Christian faith
on Bourbon Street, which is only a block away from the church where he has
pastored for decades.
After a U.S. District Court Judge banned
the enforcement of the law, the New Orleans City Council revised the ordinance
in July, abandoning the criminalization of religious speech, to better comply
with the U.S. Constitution. Then, today, in
ruling on motion for summary judgment, the Court confirmed that the city
violated the pastor’s constitutional rights by enforcing the ordinance against
“Today’s decision represents a final and
complete victory for Pastor Paul Gros and for all who desire to see free speech
flourish, said Kellum. “The ordinance had unfairly targeted religious
expression, and in doing so, prevented Pastor Gros and many others from sharing
their deeply-held beliefs with those they feel would benefit from hearing a
“Our hope is that this decision will
prevent other cities from trying to enact similarly unconstitutional limits on
free speech,” said Kellum.
Center for Religious Expression is a
servant-oriented, non-profit 501(c)(3) Christian legal organization dedicated
to the glory of God and the religious freedom of His people.