ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA — September 11, 2013
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit issued opinion today upholding Brian Johnson’s constitutional right to hand out free Bibles in Loring Park – a public park located in Minneapolis – during the annual Pride Fest, an homosexual-themed event that is free and open to the public. Brian Johnson is represented by Nate Kellum, Chief Counsel at the Center for Religious Expression.
Bending to the wishes of festival organizers, Minnesota Park & Recreation Board (MPRB) promulgated a rule prohibiting literature distribution in any public, accessible space in the park during and within the confines of Pride Fest, which rule serves to effectively eliminate Johnson’s ability to share his Christian message with those attending the festival. So as to lift this ban on Bibles, CRE filed action in federal court in Minnesota against MPRB, seeking a preliminary injunction that would enjoin application of the rule to Johnson during this annual event.
Though the district court denied Johnson’s request for preliminary relief, the Eighth Circuit granted Johnson emergency relief pending the appeal, allowing him to give away Bibles at the 2012 and 2013 events. Now, after considering the merits fully, the appellate court reversed and remanded the lower court’s ruling, protecting Johnson’s freedom to express his faith at all future Pride Fests.
“We are pleased that the appellate court recognizes the fundamental freedoms at stake for Johnson,” said Kellum. “In a public place during an event open to the public, Johnson has every right to share his views and contribute to the marketplace of ideas – just like everyone else.”