When Bryan J. Brown gave up his picket sign for a law degree, that just made him a stronger activist- and perfect candidate for a job in Kansas state government.

Born Again 

When Bryan J. Brown gave up his picket sign for a law degree, that just made him a stronger activist- and perfect candidate for a job in Kansas state government.

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Also on the tape was Operation Rescue founder Randall Terry, who discussed homosexuality and male supremacy in a speech he told The New York Times was about "the need for Christian leadership."

Trewhella repeatedly turned to Brown and the American Family Association to help with his anti-abortion campaign.

In October 2000, police in Elkhorn, Wisconsin, seized anti-abortion signs from Trewhella and some of his associates during their "Unmasking Planned Parenthood Tour." The signs and pictures of aborted fetuses ran afoul of a newly passed city ordinance requiring that demonstrators get a $500 city permit from the police chief thirty days in advance of their event.

"The ordinance appears to have been crafted for no reason other than shutting down pro-life protests," Brown argued in federal court in Milwaukee. Brown won, earning his employer a $6,630 check from the city of Elkhorn that included $830 for rental on the seized signs.

In March 2001, again working on behalf of Trewhella, Brown sued Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, over the town's parade and assembly ordinance.

Seven months later, Trewhella was arrested and charged with aggravated assault on a police officer in Bloomington, Illinois. After a two-day trial that included testimony that the officer had attacked Trewhella, Brown earned his client an acquittal. Trewhella then sued five police officers for false arrest.

Brown also worked First Amendment cases unrelated to abortion.

In April 1999, he represented Gary Edwards, who wanted a federal court order guaranteeing him the right to picket against neo-Nazis the next time they marched in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. Edwards had been arrested at a previous demonstration when he refused to give up the stick holding his protest sign. The appellate court ultimately agreed that signs should be allowed to have handles.

And Brown represented Richard Behn, who worked as a groundskeeper for the city of Phoenix. Behn claimed his right to free speech had been violated when he was suspended for a day after discussing religion with his coworkers. The city said he had violated a Parks Department policy asking people to respect others' beliefs.

"We have a right to be religious on the job," Brown told The Arizona Republic in January 2000. "[Behn] was talking about his own religious experiences. He was inviting people to church."

In February 2001, a federal appellate court agreed with Brown and his client, David Saxe, that a Pennsylvania school-district policy infringed on free speech. The policy banned negative comments about other people's values. Saxe and Brown argued that it prevented them from distributing information and speaking out about "the sinful nature and harmful effects of homosexuality."

"You could be punished if you said anything negative about a national culture," Brown told a reporter. "So if you said something positive about female circumcision, that was OK. But if you said that the continued practice of the ritual in Somalia was an outrage, you could be taken the next day to the thought police in the principal's office to have your mind scrubbed."

During these years, Brown converted to Catholicism. He married a sidewalk counselor who had caught his eye in Wichita.

David Haadsma, who befriended him at a church in Tupelo, says Brown was part of a group of Knights of Columbus members who, after their meetings, would gather for beers. Brown often dominated the conversations, talking about theology and connecting biblical stories to the modern world. "He would be spellbinding," Haadsma says. "Very few people have affected me this way."

Brown's friend says the lawyer wasn't fixated on abortion. "I don't think he focuses his life on the anti-abortion movement," Haadsma says. "I do think he still has convictions that the taking of innocent life is wrong. I do think he wouldn't back down from that still. I do think he has rethought his methods from earlier life."

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