Corporal Steven Armbruster won an Oath Keeper of the year award at the first Oath Keepers conference in October 2009. In April 2007Armbruster refused to violate the constitutional rights of a group of Christians peacefully assembling on the Kutztown University campus.
Video from the protest/rally
Armbruster is not able to discuss the case but the ADF has put out a press release about the issue.
Penn. police officer punished for upholding the law
ADF-allied attorneys file suit to defend officer who wouldn’t violate First Amendment rights of Christians at Kutztown UniversityPHILADELPHIA — ADF-allied attorneys filed a lawsuit against officials of Kutztown University and its police chief Monday on behalf of a police officer who refused to violate the constitutional rights of a group of Christians peacefully communicating on various issues on campus. As a result of Corporal Steven Armbruster’s objection to forcefully removing them from the campus, the Kutztown Univ. Police Dept. suspended him without pay for five days, issued him a disciplinary letter, and threatened him with termination if he takes a similar stand in the future.
“Police officers who understand and respect the constitutional rights of American citizens should be commended, not punished,” said ADF-allied attorney Randall L. Wenger, chief counsel for the Harrisburg-based Independence Law Center. “Corporal Armbruster honored his conscience as a Christian and his duty as a civil servant to protect–not violate–these citizens’ free speech rights. He knew that he was being asked to punish the wrong party in the situation.”
On April 18, 2007, approximately 15 members of a Christian group peacefully shared their faith on the KU campus, including speaking about moral issues such as abortion and homosexual behavior. As the members shared their message, about 300 protesters from several organizations and clubs appeared on the scene and loudly opposed the message, causing KU President F. Javier Cevallos and the chief of the KU Police Dept., William Mioskie, to insist the Christian group leave campus.
Shortly after one member of the group was arrested, Armbruster became concerned when Mioskie ordered the officers to “push” others in the group off campus for “disorderly conduct.” Armbruster understood that this would involve arresting or threatening to arrest the rest of the group upon whom the protesters had descended, though he saw no evidence of disorderly conduct among the members of the Christian group.
Armbruster explained to Mioskie that he believed such action would violate the group’s civil rights. Mioskie immediately relieved Armbruster of his duties and told him to leave the scene while other officers executed his orders. After hearing the evidence, the court dismissed the charges against members of the Christian group who were arrested.
Armbruster was placed on paid administrative leave. Following a pre-discipline conference, he was suspended without pay for five working days and warned that he will face termination if he makes a similar decision in the future. He currently has a disciplinary letter on file that jeopardizes his promotion to sergeant.
- Complaint in lawsuit Armbruster v. Cavanaugh filed with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.
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