WASHINGTON — Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund filed a federal lawsuit Friday on behalf of a Minnesota man denied his constitutional right to free speech at Mt. Rushmore National Monument in South Dakota.
“It is unbelievable that the National Park Service would deny freedom of speech at the foot of Mt. Rushmore, where four men who represent America’s freedoms are immortalized,” said ADF Litigation Staff Counsel Heather Gebelin Hacker. “Christians should never be treated as second-class citizens, regardless of the venue, but the Park Service was doing just that when they denied our client’s continued requests to peacefully distribute literature there.”
On Aug. 9, Michael Boardley and a few other individuals passed out gospel tracts near the front entrance of Mt. Rushmore without incident or comment from park officials. The next day, a park ranger approached them and informed them they must have a speech permit. Without the permit, they could not distribute the gospel tracts.
After Boardley returned home, he repeatedly called the phone number provided by the Park Service and requested a permit. The permit never arrived, and park officials stonewalled Boardley in his subsequent efforts to obtain one.
“The Park Service should know that its denial of Mr. Boardley’s request for a permit was clearly unconstitutional,” said Hacker. “It’s our hope that this lawsuit will restore free speech and religious freedom not just for Mr. Boardley, but others at the national monument as well.”
ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.