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Catholic farmer wins round in court versus East Lansing farmers market

Steve Carmody
/
Michigan Radio
Apple grower Steve Tennes at a news conference announcing the filing of his lawsuit against East Lansing.

The owner of a Mid-Michigan farm will be back at the East Lansing Farmer’s Market this Sunday after a judge today granted an injunction in his lawsuit against the city. 

Steve Tennes sued East Lansing when he was denied his usual spot at the farmer’s market. The city said the farmer's Facebook posts saying the Eaton County farm would not host same sex marriages went against a city ordinance.

Kate Anderson is one of Tennes’s attorneys. She says the judge recognized that the city potentially violated Tennes’ right to free speech and exercise of religion.

“It’s an excellent recognition of what the Constitution requires. The Constitution ensures everyone the right to speak freely and to make their own decisions about what they believe,” said Anderson.

The city tried to have the case dismissed. It says it’s not required to open its property and engage in commercial transactions with people who violate city policy.

But Federal Judge Paul Maloney granted an injunction because he says East Lansing likely violated the religious and free speech rights of Tennes. The judge says the apple farmer can return to the market, which runs through October, while his lawsuit proceeds.

The Associated Press is an independent global news organization dedicated to factual reporting.
Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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