Two eastern Iowa anti-abortion rights protesters have successfully challenged a portion of their state’s disorderly conduct law, and the state has agreed to pay their legal bills to the tune of $130,000, KCRG-TV9 reports.
Anthony Miano and Nicholas Rolland, both of Davenport, often read the Bible aloud and preach in public spaces outside abortion clinics. They sued Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller and Johnson County Attorney Janet Lyness last year after Miano was found to have violated of a law making it a simple misdemeanor to create loud and raucous noise near homes or public buildings that cause unreasonable distress to people inside.
On Sept. 26, U.S. District Court Judge Rebecca Goodgame Ebinger found a section of the Iowa Code unconstitutionally vague because it subjects speakers to criminal punishment based on the reactions of third parties. Ebinger ordered the state to pay legal fees for Miano and Rolland.
On Monday, the Iowa Appeal Board approved payment of $127,300 to the Virginia-based American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ), a Christian-based activist group, and $6,742 to Iowa-based Munro Law Office.
According to a statement from ACLJ, “This is an important decision with wide-reaching ramifications for the protection of free speech rights. This is a victory for those who advocate for pro-life issues, and for anyone who might speak on a topic that someone might find unwelcome or unpopular. As we know in today’s cultural climate, that could encompass any number of issues where strong opinions are held on opposing sides.”