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Federal appeals court revives lawsuit over PETA protest

By The Associated Press


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DENVER — A federal appeals court this week revived a lawsuit brought by animal activists who claimed they were protected by the First Amendment when handing out pro-vegetarian leaflets near a Utah school.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, appealed a ruling by a federal judge that animal-rights activists cannot picket on a sidewalk next to a school because it interferes with school activities.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Aug. 5 reversed a lower court's decision granting summary judgment to school officials.

Members of PETA filed a lawsuit in federal court in 1999 arguing the school district had no right to stop them from demonstrating near Eisenhower Junior High School in suburban Salt Lake City. They were protesting the school's decision to fly a McDonald's corporate sponsorship flag when members were allegedly threatened with arrest outside the school.

Between five and 12 PETA members distributed leaflets and carried signs on several occasions in January 1999 at Eisenhower. PETA claims the fast-food company mistreats animals and promotes an unhealthful diet.

U.S. District Judge Dee Benson granted summary judgment to the school district last summer, saying that people whose presence or acts interfere with the peaceful conduct of school activities may be asked to leave, regardless of the content of their speech.

The case was remanded to district court.


PETA claims demonstration at Utah school was protected speech
Animal-rights group makes case before federal appeals court, saying that authorities had no right to stop anti-beef protest.  05.09.02