Judge Dismisses Religious Right Lawsuit Challenging Hate Crimes Legislation

In February, four Religious Right activists in Michigan - Levon Yuille, Rene Ouellette, James Combs, and Gary Glenn, president of the American Family Association of Michigan - represented by the Thomas More Law Center filed suit against Attorney General Eric Holder over the Shepard-Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act, claiming that protection for gays "creates a special class of persons who are ‘more equal than others’ based on nothing more than deviant, sexual behavior."

Yesterday, U.S. District Judge Thomas L. Ludington dismissed the suit:

In a 43-page motion to dismiss, Holder called Glenn’s arguments hypothetical.

Citing 68 cases, he said Glenn and the ministers had no right to file a civil suit based on “conjectural” or hypothetical injuries or infringements.

“Plaintiffs do not allege that they have been prosecuted under the Act, that they have been threatened with such prosecution or that they intend to engage in any conduct prohibited by the Act,” Holder argued.

“The Act does not proscribe speech. It prohibits only violent conduct and includes specific provisions ensuring that it may not be applied to infringe any rights guaranteed by the First Amendment.”

Ludington agreed.

“... it is entirely speculative that Plaintiff’s conduct would be prosecuted under the Act,” Ludington wrote.

Case law requires that a plaintiff’s claim must be more than a “generalized grievance,” the judge noted.