Scott Lively Anti-Gay Lawsuit: Case to Be Dismissed Under First Amendment?

A motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought against Scott Lively, of Abiding Truth Ministries, claims that he cannot be held responsible for international crimes because as an American citizen he is protected under the First Amendment.

The group that filed the lawsuit, Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), is suing Lively under the Alien Tort Statute, which allows people from other countries to sue in American courts when they claim international law has been violated.

The lawsuit claims that Lively had worked with religious and political leaders in the country to teach negatively about homosexuals while spreading anti-gay propaganda throughout Uganda.

The request for dismissal was filed by Liberty Counsel on behalf of Lively and Senior Litigation Counsel for Liberty Counsel Harry Mihet, who expected the ruling to be handed down in the near future.

"SMUG asks this United States court to punish one of its citizens, Mr. Lively, for 'crimes against humanity' under an international treaty that The United States has expressly rejected," a court filing against the lawsuit read.

"Moreover, what SMUG cavalierly and conclusorily labels as 'crimes against humanity' – the most heinous of crimes – is actually nothing more than civil, non-violent political discourse in the public square on a subject of great public concern, which occupies the highest run of First Amendment protection," the brief added.

One point of contention within the case is the claim that Lively advocated for an amendment of an anti-gay bill that included the death penalty for anyone engaging in homosexual acts. In a previous email, to the Associated Press, however, Lively stated that he had never advocated for violence against homosexuals.

"Most of the ostensibly inflammatory comments attributed to me are from selectively edited video clips of my 2009 seminars in Kampala," Lively added. "I challenge the plaintiffs and their allies to publish the complete footage of the seminar on the Internet. They will not do this or their duplicity would be exposed."

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