Once again Montana citizens have been forced to go to federal court to stop attempts by politicians to outlaw dissent.
And once again the Helena establishment's efforts to outlaw dissent has been struck down as unconstitutional.
"U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull approved a settlement Tuesday in the case of a Billings minister who sued the state after being arrested on trespassing charges while gathering signatures for a ballot measure seeking to amend the state's constitution to define unborn children as persons," the Associated Press reports.
"We are very pleased that yet another absurd, anti-free speech Montana election law has been struck down," said Bozeman attorney Matthew Monforton, who represented Zastrow. "This means that Cal and other pastors have the same right to engage in the political process that everyone else has."
Attorney General Steve Bullock and Political Practices Commissioner James Murry were named as defendants, adding to the long list of suits filed against them citizens prosecuted for expressing conservative views.
After repeated courtroom losses to American Tradition Partnership and an admonishment from a federal court he was engaging in the "petty bureaucratic harassment" of innocent citizens for having political views different from his liberal one, Bullock did not even try to defend the latest attempt to prosecute citizens for speech.
The AP reports:
County officials did not allege that Zastrow violated the 1913 law on coercion or undue influence that limits the speech of ministers, clergy and churches regarding candidates and ballot issues. But Zastrow's lawsuit sought to prevent the state from threatening to enforce it.
Assistant Attorney General Michael Black, who handled the case for the state, said he did not believe the statute had ever been enforced.
"Based on our review we chose to allow the court to enter the judgment that it was unconstitutional," Black said.
Cebull granted a permanent injunction that prevents the state and county from enforcing the statute and prohibits its text from being included on "warning posters" which are displayed at polling places throughout the state, the newspaper reported.