The First Amendment has a Free Exercise clause.  The First Amendment also contains a Free Speech clause.  There is no caveat or fine print that speech, even if – especially if – based on religious beliefs, requires governmental permission.  But this understanding seems to be lost on city officials in Raleigh, N.C. and other cities across America.

In 2003, Dennis Green, along with some friends and family, decided to stand on a public right-of-way in order to communicate a pro-life message and distribute literature.  Raleigh police approached Green’s group and demanded that they cease their activities or face a citation under a picketing ordinance.

As ridiculous of a stretch as it is to arbitrarily classify small group speech as picketing in order to shut it down, even more troubling is the federal district court’s upholding of the untenable notion that an American needs permission to speak to his neighbor.  The Alliance Defense Fund is defending Mr. Green and has appealed to the 4th Circuit to vindicate Mr. Green and reverse this repugnant affront to the First Amendment.

Requiring American citizens to obtain a permit from local municipalities to peacefully and publicly express their viewpoints is clearly unconstitutional.  There is no Permit Clause in the First Amendment.  The Founders issued the only permission slip Americans need to freely express ourselves back in 1789.  And there’s no expiration date.

Read the original complaint here.