Local pastor sues Washington Co. leaders, accusing them of violating civil rights

KNWA

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — A lawsuit in Washington Co. accused leaders of violating a local pastor’s rights in recent quorum court meetings.

In the civil rights lawsuit, Case 5:21-cv-05131-TLB, Rev. Clint Schnekloth with Good Shepherd Lutheran Church said three justices of the peace and the county attorney violated his rights. In two quorum court meetings related to a pro-life resolution passed last week, justices ordered Schnekloth be removed.

During the first meeting June 28, Schnekloth was thrown out after arguing a woman who’d previously been ejected should be able to return.

Schnekloth was also removed July 15, the day the pro-life resolution passed.

The lawsuit states Schnekloth, “seeks relief from Defendants’ violation of his rights, privileges, and immunities secured by the Civil Rights Act of 1871, 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, the Equal Protection Clause, and Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000(a), et seq.”

The pastor said one of his neighbors paid the entirety of the filing fee, and he seeks monetary damages totaling $124.60. That number represents the approximate distance in miles women need to drive from Fayetteville to Tulsa, Oklahoma, if they want to seek abortion services.

Schnekloth said he hopes the lawsuit prompts justices to listen to constituents.

“Protect people’s free speech, and recognize that our county is very diverse and has many different viewpoints,” Schnekloth said.

Schnekloth, a self-identified progressive, listed four Republicans on the lawsuit, including county attorney Brian Lester and J.P. Patrick Deakins. Both said they hadn’t seen the lawsuit and couldn’t yet comment when reached by text Tuesday.

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