"The ACLU supports the rights of persons on either side of the abortion issue as long as it does not cross the fine from speech to conduct that harasses, threatens or harms another person," said Joe Cook, executive director of the ACLU of Louisiana. "Protesters have the right to picket, to distribute literature, to chant and to engage passersby in debate. But they do not have the right to block building entrances or to physically harass people."
Participating in the forum will be Dr. Billy McCormack, pastor of University Baptist Church and principal of University Christian Prep; Natasha Wilson, a Centenary political science major and president of the Pi Sigma Alpha chapter, and Laurie Lyons, a practicing attorney in Shreveport with Walker, Tooke & Lyons, L.L.P. Dr. Rodney Grunes, chair of Centenary's Department of History and Political Science, will moderate.
Dr. McCormack is a well-known opponent of abortion and a founder of the Christian Coalition. He received a B.A. and M.A. from Northwestern State University, and a Ph.D. from National Christian University. He was a state and regional coordinator for Rev. Pat Robertson's presidential campaign, and has been appointed to several state boards and commissions.
Along with her office in Pi Sigma Alpha, Ms. Wilson serves as vice president of Maroon Jackets honor organization and is a justice on Centenary's Honor Court. Ms Wilson is a member of Omicron Delta Kappa honor society, Pandora, ACLU, Shreveport-Bossier Community Renewal, College Democrats, and the Pre-Law Society.
Ms. Lyons received a B.A. from Rhodes College, and a J.D. from the University of San Francisco. She has practiced law in Shreveport for 20 years, specializing in civil rights law. She is a co-founder of LA Choice, an affiliate of the National Abortion Rights League. Also, she received the Bill of Rights Award presented annually by the Northwest Chapter of the ACLU of Louisiana.
Dr. Grunes received his M.A. and Ph.D. from Duke University and a B.A. from Drew University. He has taught at Centenary since 1986, and has also taught at Rhodes College, Rutgers University, Randolph-Mason Women's College and The Citadel. He has published on freedom of expression, civil rights, the role of the Supreme Court, the separation of church and state, and affirmative action in numerous political science and law journals.
Mr. Cook, director of the ACLU of Louisiana since 1994 and a graduate of the University of Arkansas, will attend and kick-off the event with opening remarks. After an initial statement from each forum participant, the moderator and other panel members will be allowed to ask questions. The forum will then be opened for inquiries from the audience. At the conclusion, each participant can make a brief closing statement.
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