Witnessing in Public: Muniz v. City of San Antonio

One area of religious liberty that has been challenged a few times recently is the right to share one's faith and hand out religious literature on a public sidewalk. The Muniz lawsuit is only in the initial stages, but will revolve around the religious liberties principles. Jose Muniz claims that in April 2010, he was harassed and threatened by a police officer for sharing his faith and handing out religious literature on the public sidewalk in San Antonio. He states that he was ordered to cease, and was told that it was against the law to hand out free religious literature, based on an ordinance that makes it unlawful to hand out commercial pamphlets. Muniz filed a lawsuit in federal district court against the City of San Antonio and the police officers individually involved. The police officer filed a motion to dismiss based on qualified immunity as a government official. Whether he has qualified immunity would depend on whether he was performing his duties in an objectively reasonable way. The court found there are factual disputes as to whether the officer acted reasonably.  Mr. Muniz says that he was told to stop his activities and was threatened with arrest.  The police officer says that he only addressed the issue of blocking the sidewalk and suggested the Mr. Muniz' group move to a better spot.  The court denied the motion to dismiss based on the factual dispute. This means that the case will go forward, but it will be interesting to follow the later analysis on religious liberties.

Read the full article here.

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