Baltimore must allow conservative Catholic group to hold prayer rally, judge rules

A conservative Roman Catholic media outlet has won its case against the city of Baltimore after a federal judge ruled city officials could not ban the group from holding a prayer rally during a U.S. bishop's meeting next month. 

U.S. District Judge Ellen Hollander granted on Tuesday a preliminary injunction against the city's decision to block St. Michael's Media Inc., which owns the website Church Militant, from hosting a prayer rally at a city-owned pavilion. Hollander said in her opinion that Church Militant was likely to win its case claiming the city violated the First Amendment by discriminating against the organization's political views.

"Plaintiff has demonstrated a substantial likelihood that it will prevail on the merits of its free speech (Count I) and assembly (Count IV) claims under the First and Fourteenth Amendments," the judge wrote in her order. "[T]he balance of the equities favors plaintiff; and an injunction is in the public interest."

The order says the Mayor and City Council of Baltimore "shall not prohibit or impede SMG [the pavilion's manager] from entering into a contract with St. Michael's for plaintiff's use of the MECU Pavilion for its planned rally on November 16, 2021."

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