By John Jalsevac
WASHINGTON, July 25, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) – On Wednesday the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania issued a short per curiam order, in which it agreed with the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania that the state legislature violated the Pennsylvania Constitution when it added “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to Pennsylvania’s “ethnic intimidation” law.
Eleven Christians of the evangelical group Repent America were arrested due to that same law in 2004 for reading the Bible and singing hymns at Outfest, a homosexual rally. Though the case was eventually dropped, Repent America filed legal action in 2005 against the act, citing its unconstitutional nature.
The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania agreed last November that the law was unconstitutional and struck it down. On appeal the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania sided with the Commonwealth Court, saying on Wednesday: “The order of the Commonwealth Court is AFFIRMED for the reasons ably set forth in the opinion of the Honorable James Gardner Colins, which opinion is adopted as that of the Supreme Court.”
In the Commonwealth Court opinion Justice Colins observed that the court struck down the law because the provision violated Article III of the state Constitution, which prohibits a bill’s alteration during its passage through the legislature, if the bill’s original purpose is changed.
The bill started as a measure against agricultural vandalism, and was changed by the state legislature into a hate crimes bill designed to make it illegal for anybody to protest public homosexual activities and celebrations. The law was used to persecute anybody who stood in the way of the homosexual agenda, redefining peaceful protest by Christians as hate crime.
Former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore and attorneys with the Foundation for Moral Law, who, along with attorney Aaron D. Martin, represented the Christian evangelists from Repent America, applauded the Pennsylvania Supreme Court for its ruling.
Judge Roy Moore remarked on the case, saying, “We are very happy that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ruled in our favor to stop the Governor and a group of corrupt politicians from sneaking a ‘hate crimes’ bill through the Pennsylvania legislature. Preaching to homosexuals about the sin of sodomy should not be made a ‘thought crime’ in Pennsylvania or any other state.”
Michael Marcavage, director of Repent America and a petitioner in the case, also expressed his relief that the Supreme Court had agreed that the hate crimes law was unconstitutional.
“Having been arrested, jailed and charged with a ‘hate crime’ for preaching the Gospel, I am elated that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld the lower court’s ruling in striking down Pennsylvania’s expanded ‘hate crimes’ law,” he said.
“The methods used by the Pennsylvania legislature in passing the ‘hate crimes’ bill were extremely devious and yet another chilling example as to how far politicians are willing to go to silence Christian speech that they would violate our own state Constitution to do it. In a nation that is becoming increasingly hostile toward Biblical Christianity, we remain vigilant as the Pennsylvania legislature will most likely attempt to pass another ‘hate crimes’ bill and are continuing to educate the American people on the significant dangers of such laws.”
See related LifeSiteNews.com coverage:
Pennsylvania Court Overturns Hate Crimes Expansion Tacked Onto Agricultural Bill