University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Pro-Life Mississippi v. Horton FA-MS-0003
Docket / Court 3:14-cv-00568-CWR-FKB ( S.D. Miss. )
State/Territory Mississippi
Case Type(s) Speech and Religious Freedom
Case Summary
On July 23, 2014, Pro-Life Mississippi filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, against the City of Jackson, Mississippi, the Jackson Police Department, and various city officials (collectively, Jackson). The plaintiffs, represented by the Life Legal ... read more >
On July 23, 2014, Pro-Life Mississippi filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, against the City of Jackson, Mississippi, the Jackson Police Department, and various city officials (collectively, Jackson). The plaintiffs, represented by the Life Legal Defense Foundation and private counsel, sued the defendants under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Mississippi state law, alleging that Jackson intentionally deprived them of their First Amendment rights and violated the Due Process Clause and Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Pro-Life Mississippi is a pro-life non-profit organization that frequently holds rallies in front of or near the Jackson Women’s Health Organization (JWHO), an abortion clinic in Jackson. The complaint stated that the plaintiffs and Pro-Life Mississippi affiliates “regularly stand, walk, hold signs, hand out literature, sit, speak to passerby, and sidewalk counsel on the public sidewalks and public right of ways around and near the JWHO.” Pro-Life Mississippi’s activities outside of the JWHO have attracted the defendants’ attention for years and have been the subject of previous litigation. In 2008, District Judge William H. Barbour, Jr. entered a consent decree against the City of Jackson and its officials because they “violat[ed] the free speech rights of Plaintiff Pro-Life Mississippi and individual pro-life advocates by discriminatory and unconstitutional enforcement of Mississippi statutes” stemming from the defendants’ actions limiting the plaintiffs’ activities on public property outside of the JWHO. Complaint at 2, Pro-Life Miss. v. Horton, No.3:14-cv-00568 (S.D. Miss. July 23, 2014), ECF No. 1.

The plaintiffs alleged that a little over a year after the 2008 consent decree was no longer judicially enforced the defendants resumed their activities violating pro-life individuals’ First Amendment rights. The plaintiffs claimed that the defendants arrested their members who were on sidewalks, threatened arrest, and seized the plaintiffs’ pro-life materials. Allegedly, the defendants justified this behavior by telling the plaintiffs that they were disturbing the peace, obstructing the sidewalks, and engaging in disorderly conduct. The plaintiffs contend that the defendants’ activities were intentional and meant to “stifle and suppress” their First Amendment rights. As a result, the plaintiffs sought declaratory relief, a preliminary and permanent injunction, damages, and attorneys’ fees.

On August 9, 2014, the plaintiffs filed a motion for a temporary restraining order and a motion for a preliminary injunction. These motions were denied by District Judge Carlton Reeves on October 27, 2014. This decision was appealed by the plaintiffs, but the Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court’s judgment in a three sentence opinion on January 26, 2016. The trial court lifted the stay on the case following the decision, but there was no activity on the docket for several months.

On August 16, 2016, the trial court began active management of the case, scheduling both trial and settlement conferences for the parties. The parties quickly came to an agreement and on September 23, 2016, asked the court to approve the consent decree; the court approved the decree on October 4, 2016.

The consent decree stated that defendants could not intentionally engage in activities that violate individuals’ First Amendment rights on public property. Additionally, the defendants were barred from seizing materials used to promote individuals’ First Amendment rights unless all other ways short of seizure are first exhausted. The defendants also agreed to create a training program to educate city officials and law enforcement about protecting First Amendment rights. The charges against all of the plaintiffs were dropped and their property was returned. The defendants were also forced to pay the plaintiffs $2,500.00. The consent decree was enforceable by the court for one year after it was entered.

The court retained jurisdiction of the consent decree for one year after its entry. After one year, the case will be “dismissed with prejudice and without prior notice to the parties.”

Amelia Huckins - 01/31/2017


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Equal Protection
Content of Injunction
Discrimination Prohibition
Monitoring
Provide antidiscrimination training
Training
Defendant-type
Law-enforcement
General
Abortion
False arrest
Loss or damage to property
Sidewalks
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit religious organization
Type of Facility
Non-government non-profit
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
State law
Defendant(s) City of Jackson, Mississippi
City of Jackson, Mississippi
Plaintiff Description A pro-life nonprofit group and its members.
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2016 - 2017
Case Ongoing Yes
Case Listing FA-MS-0004 : Britton v. Anderson (S.D. Miss.)
Docket(s)
3:14-cv-00568-CWR-FKB (S.D. Miss.)
FA-MS-0003-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/17/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint for Civil Rights Violations, Declaratory Judgment, Injunctive Relief, and Damages [ECF# 1]
FA-MS-0003-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/23/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Consent Decree [ECF# 86] (S.D. Miss.)
FA-MS-0003-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/04/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Ball, F. Keith (S.D. Miss.) [Magistrate]
FA-MS-0003-9000
Reeves, Carlton Wayne (S.D. Miss.)
FA-MS-0003-0002 | FA-MS-0003-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Aranda, Allison K. (California)
FA-MS-0003-0001 | FA-MS-0003-0002 | FA-MS-0003-9000
Short, Catherine Wynne (California)
FA-MS-0003-0001 | FA-MS-0003-0002 | FA-MS-0003-9000
Thornton, Steve C. (Mississippi)
FA-MS-0003-0001 | FA-MS-0003-0002 | FA-MS-0003-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Barker, Claire (Mississippi)
FA-MS-0003-9000
Gill, Lara (Mississippi)
FA-MS-0003-9000
Jackson-Winters, LaShundra B. (Mississippi)
FA-MS-0003-0002 | FA-MS-0003-9000

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