I have great news to share with you regarding a case that many of you have followed and supported for many years! On January 11th, three federal appellate judges in the Ninth Circuit issued a final ruling in favor of our client, Mark Mackey, who was arrested back in 2011 for reading the Bible aloud in front of the California Department of Motor Vehicles in Hemet.
Overzealous CHP officer, Darren Meyer, approached Mark Mackey, grabbed the Bible from his hands, slapped handcuffs on his wrists, and hauled him off to jail. The entire episode was recorded on video and, despite clear evidence that Mr. Mackey and his friends were merely exercising their constitutional rights, the state refused to drop the charges. The video showed Officer Meyer saying that it was illegal to “preach to a captive audience.”
The court also rightly rebuked Officer Meyer for false allegations in his police report. In that report, the officer alleged that Mr. Mackey was yelling at people waiting in line and that a “verbal confrontation” had become “heated and nearing a physical state.”
The Ninth Circuit judge explained, “That version of events is completely belied by video and audio footage which does not reveal any confrontations whatsoever, and merely shows Mackey reading the bible aloud somewhat apart from people standing in line.”
It was obvious to us from the beginning that a great injustice had occurred. An innocent man exercising his religious liberty and free speech was criminally prosecuted based on erroneous claims put forth by a false and deceitful police report because the officials did not agree with our client’s speech. But that is exactly why our founders created the First Amendment—to protect even disagreeable speech.
Mr. Mackey filed a federal lawsuit, but immediately offered to drop the federal suit if the CHP admitted to the unlawful arrest and agreed to properly instruct its officers on how to handle such cases. They declined. Instead they prosecuted him. We successfully prevailed over the criminal charges.
Because of the nature of this case, it received national attention and more than 165,000 people have viewed the online video. But the real work was done behind the scenes as our team invested hundreds of hours investigating legal precedents, drafting briefs and dealing with opposing counsel.
Without dedicated supporters like YOU, who offered consistent prayers and financial backing over the years, Mr. Mackey would never have prevailed. His win in the liberal Ninth Circuit is a win for all of us who hold religious liberty dear. On behalf of Mark Mackey—and those who come after him—We Thank You!
If you would like to financially support the essential work we do here at Advocates for Faith & Freedom, please click here.
Click to view the Press Release.