(CN) – A street preacher who yelled that homosexuals would “burn in hell” should not have been convicted under an unconstitutional city ordinance barring people from “molesting, disturbing or following” others, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled.
The court overturned the city of Greenville’s conviction of Joseph D. Bane, who was cited for preaching loudly on a public sidewalk. Two women testified that Bane said, “Faggots, you will burn in hell.”
A police officer gave Bane a ticket, and he was fined $200. The municipal and trial court ruled against him, but the state Supreme Court reversed.
Justice Costa Pleicones ruled that Bane did not disturb anyone with anything other than his speech.
“The city presented no evidence that appellant invited anyone into an automobile, followed anyone, or displayed any lewd behavior,” Pleicones wrote, citing some of the infractions listed in the city ordinance.
The justice also agreed with Bane that the ordinance is unconstitutional on its face.
“The words ‘humiliate,’ ‘insult,’ and ‘scare’ are not sufficiently definite to give reasonable notice of the prohibited conduct,” Pleicones wrote.