Wednesday, September 15, 2021

6th Circuit Dismisses Suit Against Anti-Israel Picketers of Synagogue

In Gerber v. Herskovitz, (6th Cir., Sept. 15, 2021), the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed a suit by synagogue members against anti-Israel pickets who have picketed services at the Beth Israel Synagogue in Ann Arbor, Michigan every week since 2003.  The district court had dismissed the suit on standing grounds. (See prior posting.) On appeal, the majority said in part:

The district court granted the defendants’ motions to dismiss for lack of standing. We disagree on that point, as the plaintiffs have alleged a concrete and particularized harm to a legally protected interest. But the reality that they have standing to bring these claims does not entitle them to relief. The key obstacle is the robust protections that the First Amendment affords to nonviolent protests on matters of public concern. We affirm the district court’s dismissal on that basis.

Judge Clay filed a concurring opinion stating that he would have affirmed the district court's dismissal on standing grounds, saying in part:

Plaintiffs’ allegations of extreme emotional distress fail to establish standing in this case because there is no legally protected interest in not being offended by the speech of others.

Courthouse News Service reports on the decision.