Anti-abortion protestors close to settlement with Colorado school

COLORADO — Two anti-abortion protestors have decided to settle with a Colorado school after what one protestor called “a topsy-turvy case from start to finish.”

Keith Mason and Jonathan O’Toole, members of Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust, are close to reaching a settlement agreement with the Colorado School of Mines, O’Toole said.

In July of 2004 O’Toole and Mason filed a lawsuit claiming their First Amendment rights were violated after they were arrested for protesting on the sidewalk of a public street on the engineering university’s campus without a permit in March of that same year.

They sued the school claiming their First, Fourth and 14th Amendment rights had been violated. They also claimed false arrest and that the school’s permit policy was unconstitutional, O’Toole said.

In March a federal district court dismissed all claims except those concerning the school’s permit policy, O’Toole said.

The case is being settled in an effort to avoid additional time and money, according to both O’Toole and school spokeswoman Marsha Williams.

According to a draft of the settlement provided to the Student Press Law Center by O’Toole, he would get $25,000 if the settlement is finalized.

“I’m fairly disappointed in the settlement, but I was/am involved in too many other similar free speech cases at the even think about appealing this judgment,”

O’Toole said in an email. “In any case, the criminal charges were dismissed and I only spent a couple of hours in jail.”

During the litigation process the school reviewed and updated its facilities use policy, including a section that deals with public speech on campus, Williams said.

Williams said the new policy provides greater clarification in regard to the use of university facilities and outlines the process for appealing facilities use decisions.

However, O’Toole said he is not happy with the new policy because he said the school still claims jurisdiction over the sidewalks, which he considers to be public land.

“I can’t control who stands on the sidewalk in front of my own home or what they say as long as they don’t break any laws,” O’Toole said.

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