Anti-abortion protestors close to settlement with Colorado school

COLORADO — Twoanti-abortion protestors have decided to settle with a Colorado school afterwhat one protestor called “a topsy-turvy case from start tofinish.”

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

InJuly of 2004 O’Toole and Mason filed a lawsuit claiming their FirstAmendment rights were violated after they were arrested for protesting on thesidewalk of a public street on the engineering university’s campus withouta permit in March of that same year.

They sued the school claimingtheir First, Fourth and 14th Amendment rights had been violated. They alsoclaimed false arrest and that the school’s permit policy wasunconstitutional, O’Toole said.

In March a federal districtcourt dismissed all claims except those concerning the school’s permitpolicy, O’Toole said.

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

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

“I’m fairly disappointedin the settlement, but I was/am involved in too many other similar free speechcases at the moment…to even think about appealing this judgment,”

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

Duringthe litigation process the school reviewed and updated its facilities usepolicy, including a section that deals with public speech on campus, Williamssaid.

Williams said the new policy provides greater clarification inregard to the use of university facilities and outlines the process forappealing facilities use decisions.

However, O’Toole said he isnot happy with the new policy because he said the school still claimsjurisdiction over the sidewalks, which he considers to be publicland.

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