The Thomas More Law Center has filed suit against the city of Dearborn, Michigan on behalf of Quran-burning pastor Terry Jones. They’ve already won one lawsuit against the city after they jailed Jones for refusing to post an illegal bond before they’d allow him to speak. Now the city has a new tactic in their battle against Jones, a “hold harmless” agreement that they demand he sign before getting a permit for a rally there. Here’s what it says, in part:
Standup America! and Wayne Sapp do hereby expressly, voluntarily, and willingly assume all risk and dangers associated with the participation in the activities on City of Dearborn property on April 7, 2012. These risks could result in damage to property, personal, and/or bodily injury or death, including injuries or death to the individual participants.
Standup America! and Wayne Sapp hereby agree to defend, indemnify, and hold harmless the City of Dearborn, its officers, employees, agents, representatives, and departments from and against any and all claims and causes of action of any kind arising out of or in connection with their activities on City of Dearborn property.
The TMLC is right about this. There’s no way that agreement is legal. It is the job of the government to protect his right to speak. If they fail to do their job and are negligent in protecting him, he has the same right to sue the city that any other person speaking on any subject would have. That doesn’t mean he would win such a suit, of course; he’d have to prove that they were legally negligent. But he certainly doesn’t have to agree in advance that he has no right to sue no matter what the city does or doesn’t do in relation to the event.
Wayne Sapp is Jones’ associate, by the way; he applied for the permit, but Jones is the one organizing it and speaking.
Update: As predicted, the court wasted no time in siding with Jones and issuing an injunction against the city, allowing him to speak on public property across from a mosque. One of these days, the city of Dearborn is going to learn to abide by the First Amendment.