Thomas More Law Center’s Lawsuit Tossed By Federal Judge

From the AP:

A federal judge Wednesday dismissed a conservative Christian advocacy group’s lawsuit against a Muslim rights organization over the cancellation of a speech by an anti-Muslim speaker at a southwestern Michigan school.

…Allegan police interrupted Kamal Saleem’s speech Jan. 28, 2012, saying there were threats of violence against him. Dawud Walid, executive director of  [CAIR’s] Michigan chapter, had written the school district earlier objecting to Saleem’s appearance.

U.S. District Judge Janet Neff dismissed Walid and his group as defendants. Neff also dismissed claims against the Allegan police and the group People for the American Way, which advocates for liberal causes…

The case had been brought by the Thomas More Law Center on behalf of several plaintiffs: then-State Representative Dave Agema, who introduced Saleem’s talk; Elizabeth Griffin, a chapter leader of Brigitte Gabriel’s ACT! for America organisation; Allegan County Commissioner Willis Sage; and a certain Pastor Mark Gurley, a birther who was one of the event sponsors.

I covered the story at the time: Saleem’s speech was interrupted by police because they unfortunately took at face value Saleem’s claim that Muslims had put a “$25million bounty” on his head, and they feared an immediate threat to life. Perhaps the police response was misjudged, but the local police chief  had to make a immediate decision on a matter of public safety based on information given to him at the last moment. The TMLC subsequently sued the school district – the case was settled for $500 a year ago – but also claimed that the real reason the speech had been shut down was because CAIR and PFAW had previously written to the school district asking it not to give Saleem a platform.

The TMLC claimed this meant the two groups had “interfered with the contract” between the venue and the event organisers; this was obvious nonsense, as the two groups had not played any part in the police decision – and even if the venue had declined to host Saleem as a result of the two groups’ representations, there would still be no case to answer. Anyone is entitled to write to the managers of a venue with information about the nature of a speaker they intend to host, and Saleem is a particularly unsuitable person to be given a platform in an educational setting.

The TMLC, while striking a faux “free speech” pose, was in fact attempting to misuse the law to censor critical comment of Saleem, the most floridly bogus of the Muslim-turned-Christian “ex-terrorists” who make money from telling lurid stories to conservative groups about Islamic conspiracies and Barack Obama. And the judge saw through it, asserting that in writing to the school board the defendants had exercised their First Amendment right to petition their representatives (full ruling here, h/t Ed Brayton).

Agema, meanwhile, has recently been the news for other reasons – over to the Detroit Free Press:

Agema — one of two national committee members from Michigan — came under fire after making comments in December that suggested gays manipulate the system to get health care because of a risk of contracting AIDS. Then this month, he posted on his Facebook page a defense of a Russian law that criminalizes homosexuality, and commented that it appeared to be “common sense” to him. He also re-posted a tract that questioned if Muslims had made any positive contribution to American culture.

Senior Republicans are asking for him to step down. The “tract” was an anti-Muslim and anti-Obama viral email that seems to have first appeared the day after Obama’s Cairo speech on 4 June 2009.

However, once again, an element of the Christian Right is coming to Agema’s support: not, this time, the TMLC, but in the form of Bryan Fischer.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.