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Victory for Speech and Soap Boxes

WOODBURY, MN — Today, a federal district court in Minnesota entered a judgment offered by the City of Woodbury in favor of Dr. James Grinols, obliging the city to change a law that required citizens to obtain governmental permission to publically speak about the issues of the day in public parks and ways.  

Desirous of sharing his views with fellow citizens, back in 2008, Grinols asked city officials where he could put up a proverbial soap box and give a political/religious speech similar to speaker’s corner in London, England.  Grinols was initially told he could engage in this expressive activity as long as he did not impede traffic, but a few speeches and approximately 7 months later, Woodbury passed a law, §16-61, mandating a permit for any public speech in the city without providing decision-makers with any objective guidelines for making the decision.  Subsequently, in the summer of 2013, Grinols sought a permit to speak in Woodbury, only to be arbitrarily denied.

On behalf of Grinols, the Center for Religious Expression (CRE) sent a letter to Woodbury officials asking them to refrain from applying §16-61 to Grinols and his soap-box speech, which request was rebuffed by the city.  But following the lawsuit filed by CRE, along with his Motion for Preliminary Injunction, Woodbury changed its tune, and voluntarily submitted an offer of judgment granting Grinols the relief he sought all along.         

“We’re pleased the city came to grips with the constitutional freedoms at stake,” said Nate Kellum, Chief Counsel with CRE.   “Just like anyone else, Christians have the right to share their views and contribute to the marketplace of ideas.”  Kellum added:  “The notion that Dr. Grinols must seek and secure governmental permission to share his opinions with neighbors betrays the purpose of the First Amendment.”  

Quoting Martin Luther King Jr., Dr. Grinols observed:  “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”          

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.

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