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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 the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Pro-Life Mississippi is a pro-life nonprofit 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. For more details on the earlier case, see Britton v. Anderson.

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. 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. 628 F. App'x 269.

Later in 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. After one year, the case will be "dismissed with prejudice and without prior notice to the parties."

However, more than two years following the date of the consent judgement, the case had not been dismissed. JWHO filed a motion to intervene on January 24, 2019 so it could file a motion to dismiss. It claimed that the decree had a chilling effect on the defendant's enforcement of constitutionally valid ordinances and laws. On June 27, 2019, Judge Reeves denied the motion to intervene. Specifically, the court found that a party cannot intervene to dissolve a consent decree that does not exist, noting that the consent expired on October 4, 2017. Given the court's clear statement that the consent decree no longer exists, the case is now presumably closed.

Amelia Huckins - 01/31/2017
Edward Cullen - 03/21/2019
Hope Brinn - 05/17/2020

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Due Process: Procedural Due Process
Due Process: Substantive Due Process
Equal Protection
Freedom of speech/association
Content of Injunction
Discrimination Prohibition
Provide antidiscrimination training
False arrest
Loss or damage to property
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 outcome Not sought
Filed Pro Se 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
Filed 07/23/2014
Case Closing Year 2019
Case Ongoing No reason to think so
Case Listing FA-MS-0004 : Britton v. Anderson (S.D. Miss.)
Additional Resources
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Court Docket(s)
S.D. Miss.
FA-MS-0003-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
S.D. Miss.
Complaint for Civil Rights Violations, Declaratory Judgment, Injunctive Relief, and Damages [ECF# 1]
FA-MS-0003-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Miss.
Consent Decree [ECF# 86]
FA-MS-0003-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Miss.
Order [ECF# 95]
FA-MS-0003-0003.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Ball, F. Keith (S.D. Miss.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
Reeves, Carlton Wayne (S.D. Miss.) show/hide docs
FA-MS-0003-0002 | FA-MS-0003-0003 | FA-MS-0003-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Aranda, Allison K. (California) show/hide docs
FA-MS-0003-0001 | FA-MS-0003-0002 | FA-MS-0003-9000
Short, Catherine Wynne (California) show/hide docs
FA-MS-0003-0001 | FA-MS-0003-0002 | FA-MS-0003-9000
Thornton, Steve C. (Mississippi) show/hide docs
FA-MS-0003-0001 | FA-MS-0003-0002 | FA-MS-0003-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Barker, Claire (Mississippi) show/hide docs
Gill, Lara (Mississippi) show/hide docs
Jackson-Winters, LaShundra B. (Mississippi) show/hide docs
FA-MS-0003-0002 | FA-MS-0003-9000
Other Lawyers Haller, Elliott V. (Mississippi) show/hide docs
Wann, Steven Mark (Mississippi) show/hide docs

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