08/05/2015 16:56 EDT | Updated 08/05/2016 01:12 EDT

Coal protesters, company still battling over whether lawsuit can quote 1971 anti-mining song

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — The lyrics from a 40-year-old strip-mining protest song are still a battle in a lawsuit pitting environmentalists against one of the nation's largest coal mining companies.

Activists suing Peabody Energy Corp. quoted singer-songwriter John Prine's 1971 song "Paradise," which criticized the company's mining activities in Kentucky. They asked a federal judge this week to deny Peabody's request to strip the lyrics from their lawsuit, noting that even U.S. Supreme Court opinions have quoted songs.

The company says quoting the lyrics is inflammatory and irrelevant and strikes a sour chord.

Colorado activists Thomas Asprey and Leslie Glustrom claim the company and others violated their civil rights by having them arrested for protesting outside the company's 2013 shareholder meeting in Gillette, Wyoming.

Ben Neary, The Associated Press