Pa. porn shop’s effort to stifle free speech fails

Sexually oriented business agrees to dismiss its lawsuit against Christian ministry
Thursday, January 15, 2015

Attorney sound bites:  Randall Wenger  |  Brett Harvey

PHILADELPHIA – A federal court has dismissed a lawsuit against a Christian ministry represented by Alliance Defending Freedom allied attorneys after a Pennsylvania sexually oriented business gave up its fight to stop the free speech of sidewalk counselors.

The King’s Men, a Catholic non-profit organization that says it is dedicated to developing men to be “leaders, protectors, and providers,” believes pornography is a contributing factor to the decay of the family and spoke with men outside Adult World in Montgomery until the shop filed suit. In March 2014, the court denied the King’s Men’s motion to toss the case, which was set to go to trial last week. Monday, however, Adult World agreed to dismissal of the lawsuit.

“Americans should not have to stand trial for exercising their freedom of speech in a public area,” said Independence Law Center attorney Randall Wenger, one of more than 2,500 private attorneys allied with ADF. “This is not only a victory for The King’s Men, but for all Americans who cherish our freedom to speak on matters of public concern without the fear of being censored.”

Wenger represented The King’s Men along with allied attorney Jeff Conrad, who served as lead counsel, and attorney Emily Bell, both of Clymer, Musser & Conrad in Lancaster.

In August 2011, Adult World called police when representatives with The King’s Men spoke with people outside the shop as part of the ministry’s “No More Porn Tour” in a mulched public walkway in front of the business and on adjoining private property with the owner’s permission. After police refused to shut down The King’s Men’s speech, the corporation owning Adult World filed suit to try to keep the King’s Men participants away.

The corporation filed the lawsuit, Routes 202 and 309 Novelties and Gifts v. The King’s Men, with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania under a hodgepodge of extraordinary claims, including racketeering, creating a private and public nuisance, and violating the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. The King’s Men reply brief explained to the court that Adult World failed to show any evidence of its exaggerated claims.

“The constitutionally protected freedom of people to express their views in public areas has been an essential part of American life since the nation’s founding,” added Senior Counsel Brett Harvey of ADF, which provided funding for defense of The King’s Men. “We are very pleased that this ministry can continue its work and advance its values without the threat of baseless litigation.”

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.

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