True to their word, pro-life activists in Winter Park, Florida, have sued the city government for passing an ordinance banning home protests.

City commissioners (minus the mayor, who voted to protect free speech) enacted the ban after pro-lifers picketed the home of Jenna Tosh, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater Orlando, on August 18.

The ban prohibits protests within 50 feet of any home.

Coincidentally, Jenna is sister-in-law to Comedy Central’s Daniel Tosh.

Plaintiffs Winnifred Bell, Allura Lightfoot, and Deanna Waller filed a motion for a temporary restraining order as the merits of their case are debated in court, but that motion was denied.

Recall even the liberal Orlando Sentinel came out against this ordinance as “abridging… free-speech rights.”

Mayor Kenneth Bradley stated on the record he thought the ordinance would be found unconstitutional, to which City Council Commissioner Tom McMacken (pictured left) dimly responded, “I have sworn to uphold the Constitution, but … if it was constitutional or unconstitutional, I would still do it.”

City Attorney Larry Brown explained the city’s side to a reporter from Winter Park Voice, noting plaintiffs had filed for recovery of attorney fees and damages…


The city is hinging its defense on the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1988 Frisby v. Schultz decision, which upheld a Brookfield, Wisconsin, ordinance banning home protests. The current lawsuit maintains:

Although the Code claims to be in conformance with Frisby v. Schultz, 487 U.S. 7 474 (1988), it misinterprets the essential holdings of the case. The Frisby Court held an Code “forbid[ding] all picketing in residential neighborhoods [would violate] the overbreadth doctrine [and] would render it unconstitutional on its face.”(White, J., concurring).

Second, the City’s Code defines a “picket” as “any assembly of one or more persons ….” (emphasis supplied). In Burk v. Augusta-Richmond County, 365 F. 3d 1247, 1255 n.13 (11th Cir. 2004), the Eleventh Circuit cited with approval the small group exceptions of many other circuits when it noted a law requiring permits for groups of only five people is not narrowly tailored.

Stay tuned.

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