It’s not often that you end up sharing a jail cell with your dad and your oldest son. But that’s exactly where David Benham found himself.
Their crime? Praying outside an abortion clinic in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The arrests took place during the pandemic lockdown, when officials had issued extensive directives for gatherings. But the law permitted Cities4Life, co-founded by David with his twin brother, Jason, to continue operating as an approved ministry.
That April morning, police officers confronted a small group of Cities4Life advocates. David rushed there as soon as he heard, explaining that Cities4Life was a nonprofit organization and that they were following the applicable local law and all the CDC guidelines—social distancing, gathering in groups of less than 10, and carrying hand sanitizer.
It didn’t matter. The police officers surrounded him and a few of his fellow pro-life advocates and placed them in handcuffs.
Just a few days before, another pro-life group had faced a similar situation in nearby Greensboro, North Carolina.
There, Justin Reeder, founder of LoveLife, was walking and praying on private property—with the permission of the owner—and on a public sidewalk across the street from a Greensboro abortion facility. Four others, including his attorney, were with him. Just like the Cities4Life advocates, the Love Life representatives were following all the required health directives.
But law enforcement officers soon showed up and demanded that the pro-life group leave.
Although Justin and his attorney explained that they had a right to be there engaging in free speech, they ended up in the back of a squad car. They were charged with an “illegal gathering,” or having more than 10 people together during quarantine—even though there were only five in the group.
This was not the first time that David and Justin had faced strong opposition from city officials or pro-abortion activists. But the resistance had never stopped them from continuing to have a peaceful, prayerful presence in front of local abortion centers.
And being arrested wasn’t going to stop them, either. David and Justin enlisted the help of Alliance Defending Freedom, which filed lawsuits on their behalf.
In this issue, you’ll also read about:
- Why it is important to be informed and engaged leading up to the election;
- How one university discriminated against Martin Luther King Jr.’s niece; and
- How Samaritan’s Purse helped fight the COVID-19 pandemic in New York City.
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To understand why the outcome of this case should matter to you, here are a few key quotes from oral arguments that help explain the importance of nominal damages.
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ADF General Counsel Kristen Waggoner argued Chike’s case before the Court. We sat down with her after oral arguments to ask her a few questions.
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Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys are presenting oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of Chike Uzuegbunam.