Sioux Falls—Criminal Charges Against Pro-Life Advocates Dismissed

Sioux Falls, S.D.: On Thursday, May 11, 2012, LLDF attorneys were happy to report the dismissal of a citation for unlawful assembly against the pro-life advocacy group Missionaries to the Preborn. The Milwaukee-based group conducts pro-life outreach throughout the Mid-West, and ran into trouble at their event in Sioux Falls.

Police cited Jason Storms, one of approximately 50 pro-life advocates engaged in outreach and education along a public street in the city. The citation relied on a city ordinance requiring a permit for groups of 10 or more persons engaged in public assembly.

Mr. Storms immediately contacted LLDF Legal Director Katie Short, and informed her of the citation. Katie spoke with the Sioux Falls city attorney, explaining that based on precedent in relevant case law the ordinance at issue was unconstitutional in its permit requirement. Following this conversation, the group was allowed to continue their demonstration. Later conversations with the city attorney resulted in the citation being dropped in its entirety.

The ordinance at issue had been previously amended and was improperly invoked, even by its own terms, against the pro-life advocates’ activities. The City has stated it will look into the way the ordinance is being enforced.

“We want to thank Katie Short for fine legal work regarding this matter,” Missionaries to the Preborn stated in a news release. “[Life Legal Defense Foundation] worked on this for a week so that we could go back to Sioux Falls and speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, yet again! This will hopefully help the local pro-lifers too, who have been intimidated by the unjust actions of the police there.”