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Won U.S. District Courts

Gray v. Kohl

Florida law prohibiting anyone without “legitimate business” from being near a school struck down after it was used to prohibit distribution of Bibles on public sidewalks.

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Summary

Thomas Gray is a member of Gideons International, a non-profit religious organization whose members distributes Bibles as a method to share the Gospel. Thomas had been handing out Bibles for over 36 years as a method to share the Christian faith with others. However, when he attempted to hand out Bibles on the public sidewalks near Key Largo School in Florida, he was threatened with arrest. The officer cited a Florida statute that prohibits anyone from being within 500 feet of schools without "legitimate business" or prior permission. However, the statute did not define legitimate business, nor did it state from whom permission must be sought.

With the help of Alliance Defending Freedom, Thomas challenged the statute and argued that it violated his First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and religion. The court ruled in favor of Thomas, finding that the Florida statute was "unconstitutionally vague" and striking down the relevant portions of the law.

What's at stake

The right of religious organizations to express their views on public property

Members of Gideons International being restricted from distributing copies of the Bible on public sidewalks

Our role in this case

Alliance Defending Freedom represented Thomas in the defense of his rights to freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

Case Documents

Court
Title
Date
Trial Court
6/18/2008

Case Profiles

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David A. Cortman
David A. Cortman
Senior Counsel, Vice President of U.S. Litigation
David A. Cortman serves as senior counsel and vice president of U.S. litigation with Alliance Defending Freedom.