Tuesday, March 06, 2012
4th Circuit: Qualified Immunity Protects Officers Who Barred Graphic Anti-Abortion Signs
In Lefemine v. Wideman, (4th Cir., March 5, 2012), the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals held that Greenwood County Sheriff’s Department officials had qualified immunity as to damage claims against them by an anti-abortion organization, Columbia Christians for Life. The court held that it was not clearly established at the time of the group's 2005 anti-abortion demonstration that law enforcement officers could not bar the display, even in a traditional public forum, of large graphic photos of aborted fetuses. The court also upheld the district court's refusal to award attorneys' fees to plaintiffs as well as the scope of the district court's injunctive and declaratory relief.