Federal judge rules anti-Semites can continue their “insulting, and even outrageous, speech” outside Ann Arbor synagogue.
By Yakir Benzion, United With Israel
A federal judge in Michigan dismissed a lawsuit filed by members of an Ann Arbor synagogue who were trying to stop anti-Semitic and anti-Israel protestors from bothering them every sabbath.
For years, a handful of the same protesters has harassed worshipers arriving at the Beth Israel synagogue carry signs that include “Resist Jewish Power,” “Jewish Power Corrupts,” “No More Holocaust Movies,” “Boycott Israel,” “Stop U.S. Aid to Israel” and “End the Palestinian holocaust,” the local news website MLive.com reported.
In her ruling, U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts concluded that the synagogue members trying to stop the anti-Semites did not have standing in the court and that the First Amendment “more than protects the expressions by Defendants of what Plaintiffs describe as ‘anti-Israeli, anti-Zionist, and antisemitic.’”
“Peaceful protest speech such as this – on sidewalks and streets – is entitled to the highest level of constitutional protection, even if it disturbs, is offensive, and causes emotional distress,” the judge wrote in her dismissal of the case.
The lawyer for the synagogue members, Marc Susselman, said the judge’s dismissal of the case was only a “a minor setback.”
“The court did not rule on the merits of the case or address any of the First Amendment issues,” Susselman told MLive. “This was a technical ruling … the plaintiffs clearly have standing based on the emotional distress caused by the presence of anti-Semitic signs outside their place of worship.”
The synagogue members were also represented by lawyer Ziporah Reich, litigation director at the The Lawfare Project, who said the judge’s decision went against federal case law and precedent.
“In granting the defendants’ motions to dismiss, the court is effectively saying that the emotional distress experienced by Jews, in reaction to the anti-Semitic slurs hurled at them every week for 16 years in front of their house of worship, is insufficient injury to grant them access to federal court,” Reich told MLive.
“We will be filing a motion for reconsideration and, if it is denied, we will file an appeal with the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.”
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