Earlier this year, the federal Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit upheld a district court’s denial of a preliminary injunction requested by a street preacher who alleged that a county government had infringed upon his First Amendment rights.
Adam LaCroix is a street preacher who discusses “Biblical principles of sexual morality” outside public venues in Lee County, Florida, including JetBlue Park, where the Boston Red Sox train. The venue is owned by the county government, but leased to the Red Sox. The team in turn allows special events, such as concerts, to occur at the facility. LaCroix attempted to preach during one such event, in which only concert patrons were allowed to enter the property, and was told that he could not do so.
LaCroix then filed suit in federal district court on First Amendment grounds, claiming that the ordinance was content based and that the government left police officers with unbridled discretion. He sought a preliminary injunction, which was denied on the grounds that LaCroix lacked standing and that he was not entitled to a preliminary injunction. On appeal, the Eleventh Circuit agreed with the district court’s analysis. The Eleventh Circuit concluded that LaCroix failed to specifically identify where his future free speech activity would be located, and thus did not establish a concrete injury in fact. Because the court concluded that the plaintiff failed to show that he was presently or would be subject to a permitting ordinance for this type of speech, the appeals court confirmed that the case should be dismissed.