Wednesday, February 10, 2021

11th Circuit: Anti-Abortion Protesters Challenge To Permit Requirements Rejected

In Henderson v. McMurray, (11th Cir., Feb. 9, 2021), the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed free speech, free exercise and due process challenges to Huntsville, Alabama's application of its permit requirements to activities of James and Carol Henderson, two anti-abortion protesters. When abortion rights counter-protesters drowned out the sidewalk counseling and prayers of the Hendersons, the Hendersons resorted to using amplification devices. This triggered the need for them to obtain a permit under Huntsville's municipal code. In dismissing the Hendersons' various challenges, the court concluded that they failed to plead facts showing that they did not have ample alternative channels of communication or that the limits on noise in their permit were a pretext for viewpoint discrimination. The court also held that the noise limits in the permit were not unconstitutionally vague and that the free exercise claim does not trigger strict scrutiny.