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Country Mill Farms v. City of East Lansing

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Description:  City of East Lansing officials exiled Steve Tennes and his popular family business, Country Mill Farms, after he posted on Facebook that he follows the Catholic Church’s teachings regarding marriage when hosting weddings at his family farm. At issue is an unconstitutional policy that city officials adopted specifically to shut out Tennes and Country Mill Farms purely for that reason. The city did this even though Tennes, his family, and the orchard are in Charlotte, 22 miles from East Lansing, well outside the city’s boundaries and beyond its jurisdiction.

Wednesday, Dec 18, 2019

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The following quote may be attributed to Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Kate Anderson regarding a federal district court’s ruling Wednesday that acknowledged that East Lansing passed an unconstitutional ordinance. The case, Country Mill Farms v. City of East Lansing, will proceed to trial next year. Alliance Defending Freedom represents Country Mill Farms.

“All Americans should be free to live and speak according to their deeply held religious beliefs without fear of government punishment. Today the court correctly recognized that East Lansing’s ordinance was unconstitutionally vague. As the record reflects, the city of East Lansing has consistently used this vagueness to act with hostility towards Steve and Bridget Tennes of Country Mill Farms because city officials simply don’t like their Catholic convictions about marriage. In a public debate, a city council member even called Steve’s Catholic beliefs ‘bigot[ed],’ ‘ridiculous, horrible, [and] hateful.’ We are looking forward to stopping this discrimination against Country Mill Farms at trial.”
Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
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ABOUT Kate Anderson

Kate Anderson serves as senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, where she is a key member of the Center for Conscience Initiatives. Since joining ADF in 2015, Anderson has focused on protecting the conscience rights of individuals being unjustly compelled to forfeit their beliefs under threat of government retaliation, heavy fines, or other punishment. Anderson obtained her law degree magna cum laude in 2009 from Gonzaga University School of Law, where she served on the Gonzaga Law Review. She also completed the ADF leadership development program to become a Blackstone Fellow. Anderson is admitted to the state bars of Arizona and Washington, the U.S. Supreme Court, and several federal district and appellate courts.