Center Line, Michigan — April 13, 2017. Today, the Center for Religious Expression (CRE) filed a federal lawsuit against the City of Center Line for banning Michael Mattia from displaying pro-life signs with Christian messages on public sidewalks.
Mattia holds ardent beliefs about abortion, and wants to alert the public that unborn babies are living people created in God’s image and that abortion brutally extinguishes that life. To show the true effects of abortion, Mattia displays a sign showing an aborted baby. His sign offers hope, contrasting that while abortion kills, God heals. He doesn’t block street signs or impede traffic. He just holds his sign peacefully.
On August 26, 2016, Mattia displayed his sign on a public sidewalk at a well-travelled intersection in the middle of Center Line. However, after about an hour, Center Line police approached and claimed that Mattia was causing a breach of the peace because passersby were complaining about the sign. They warned Mattia to cease displaying his sign immediately or face arrest
CRE sent a letter on Mattia’s behalf to Center Line officials, requesting they renounce their unconstitutional policy. But instead of offering relief, Center Line compounded the problem, informing Mattia that he was prohibited from displaying any sign at all on any sidewalk in the city. Faced with the prospect of arrest for continuing to share his views on abortion, Mattia filed suit.
“The First Amendment doesn’t allow the government to selectively ban speech just because others dislike it,” said CRE Chief Counsel Nate Kellum. “Moreover, a total ban on signs on a public sidewalk burdens far too much speech. Banishing all signs with pro-life viewpoints clearly crosses the line.”