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Court ruling means Modesto man free to speak

Christian man represented by ADF attorneys able to share faith in public plaza while lawsuit moves forward

FRESNO, Calif. — A federal court granted a motion Wednesday that allows a Christian man to freely share his faith in a Modesto public plaza while his lawsuit against the city moves forward in court.  ADF attorneys filed suit on behalf of Kevin Borden in July after the city of Modesto restricted him and his friends from peacefully sharing their faith in a public plaza on Saturday evenings.

“Christians shouldn’t be discriminated against for expressing their beliefs,” said ADF Litigation Staff Counsel Heather Gebelin Hacker.  “We are pleased that the city of Modesto will no longer be able to exclude our client from a public area where he is clearly allowed to exercise his First Amendment rights.  Anyone who cherishes their free speech rights should be concerned when the government seeks to toss those rights aside.”

Borden has been sharing his faith peacefully with others in Tenth Street Plaza, a public square in downtown Modesto.  After Brenden Theatres, a private business located on the plaza, complained about Borden’s speech, the city allowed Brenden to rent the plaza almost every Saturday evening for several months.  Brenden excluded Borden and his associates from the area even though no events are taking place there and no one else is excluded.

On Monday, Hacker concluded her arguments in favor of a preliminary injunction before the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, Fresno Division, in Borden v. City of Modesto.

In his order granting the injunction, Chief U.S. District Judge Anthony W. Ishii said that “enough [evidence] has been provided to demonstrate that Borden will likely prevail on the merits.”

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.