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Montana’s Limitations on Minister’s Political Speech Overturned

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Photo courtesy of pocius/Flickr

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The state has acknowledged that a century old law limiting the speech of clergy regarding candidates and ballot issues is unconstitutional.

The Billings Gazette reports 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.

Calvin Zastrow, a minister for the Assemblies of God, was arrested after he refused to leave a location near MetraPark commonly used to gather petition signatures. The charges were dropped.

County officials did not allege that Zastrow violated the 1913 undue voter influence law, but his lawsuit sought to prevent the state from threatening to enforce it.

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