Friday, April 12, 2013

6th Circuit: Church Has Standing To Sue Over Police Investigations of Loud Music

In Faith Baptist Church v. Waterford Township, (6th Cir., April 11, 2013), the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals held that a Michigan federal district court was wrong in denying a  church standing to complain about police investigations of complaints about loud music coming from the church during rehearsals, services and concerts. (See prior posting.)  The 6th Circuit said:
Plaintiffs have shown they have a reasonable fear that their speech, free exercise of religion, and freedom of association will be chilled.... Although Defendants did not actually enforce the ordinance, they credibly threatened to do so. As a result, Plaintiffs sustained a concrete and particularized injury.
The court also held that  claims against the prosecuting attorney in his individual capacity for injunctive and declaratory relief were improperly dismissed by the district court on qualified immunity grounds.  However the appeals court affirmed the district court's dismissal of civil conspiracy, equal protection and 4th Amendment claims, as well as all claims against the prosecuting attorney in his official capacity and for monetary damages in his individual capacity. [Thanks to Brian D. Wassom for the lead.]