Texas Library Sued for Denying Religious-Meeting Request

July 22, 2002

Mitchell County (Tex.) Public Library has been sued by an Abilene-area man who alleges that the library violated his First Amendment rights for denying him use of its meeting room for a religious gathering. The Mitchell County Attorney’s office replied in early July to the June 26 brief filed by plaintiff attorney Mathew D. Staver, who is representing Seneca Lee, Mitchell County Judge Ray Mayo told American Libraries.

Staver, president and general counsel of the Orlando, Florida–based Liberty Counsel, said in a written statement that he was “amazed that library directors either intentionally ignore, or intentionally remain uneducated about unconstitutional policies that discriminate against religion.” The MCPL suit is the fifth that Staver’s group has brought against libraries since 2000; the other three legal actions resulted in the defendant libraries removing content-based restrictions from their meeting-room policies. Liberty Counsel characterizes itself as a “nonprofit civil liberties education and legal defense organization dedicated to preserve religious freedom.”