State of Colorado Settles Case After Violating Constitutional Rights of Supporter of Personhood Amendment
DENVER, Feb. 2 /Christian Newswire/ — Last week the State of Colorado settled the case of Wiechec v. Hemphill, in which two Colorado State Troopers and a member of Governor Bill Ritter’s staff were accused of violating the constitutional rights of Mr. John Wiechec. On October 7, 2008, these individuals were complicit in preventing Mr. Wiechec from engaging in expressive First Amendment activity in support of Amendment 48, Colorado’s Personhood Amendment, while at a public park near the West Steps of the Colorado State Capitol building. The measure redefined „person“ to include an unborn child from the moment of conception.
In October 2009, attorney James Rouse, who is representing Mr. Wiechec, filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado naming the troopers and Governor Ritter’s staff member as defendants for causing the unlawful arrest of Mr. Wiechec. The complaint alleges violations of Mr. Wiechec’s constitutional rights, including his Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure and right to free speech under both the United States and Colorado Constitutions. The complaint also alleges various other state civil claims which address the unlawful detention of Mr. Wiechec and the personal injury suffered at the hands of one of the arresting officers.
While the Governor used amplified sound to express his opposition to Amendment 48 at a rally organized for that purpose, Mr. Wiechec expressed support of the Amendment using his unamplified natural voice, never causing the Governor to interrupt his speech. Mr. Wiechec and others were approximately 25-yards away from the rally in the public park surrounding the capitol building to express their support for the Amendment. At all times Mr. Wiechec kept himself distinctly separate and apart from rally activity.
Attorney Rouse stated, „This case shows that not even high ranking government officials can get away with silencing pro-life speech that occurs in a traditional public forum such as a park, no matter how much the government official disagrees with the pro-life viewpoint.“
Life Legal Defense Foundation (LLDF) assisted by providing funding for this case. LLDF was established in 1989, and is a non-profit organization composed of attorneys and other concerned citizens, committed to giving helpless and innocent human beings of any age, particularly the unborn, and their advocates, a trained and committed voice in the courtrooms of our nation. For more information, call Dana Cody at 916.727.4396.