In a stunning decision earlier this month, a California state judge in Riverside struck down a 2015 law, AB 775, because it violated the free speech protections, found in the California Constitution, of nearly 90 Pro-Life Pregnancy Care Centers through out the state. Then yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a federal case against AB 775, for possibly violating the 1st Amendment free speech rights of these centers.
The Reproductive Fact Act, AB 775, mandates that all pro-life pregnancy centers present all their clients information on where they can get free or low-cost abortions.
From the moment the bill was introduced by Assemblyman Chiu (D-San Francisco), the California Family Council and other pro-life advocates complained loudly that pregnancy care centers shouldn’t be forced to promote and pay to advertise for government abortion services that they found abhorrent. Legislators, pundits, and secular legal scholar repeatedly dismissed these concerns. But these recently judicial decisions bring vindication.
“We are glad to see the judicial branch can still be depended upon to defend our liberty, even here in liberal California,” said California Family Council CEO Jonathan Keller. “Let’s hope and pray the US Supreme Court justices follow the California court’s lead and strike AB 775 down as a violation of free speech rights.”
Special praise should be given to the Advocates for Faith & Freedom attorneys from Tyler & Bursch, LLP who challenged the law in state court, knowing the California State Constitution provides greater free speech protection than the First Amendment.
“It is a great day in California, because we know that freedom of speech is still a protected constitutional right,” Attorney Robert Tyler said following his client’s victory. “Judge Trask is absolutely correct that the State can’t force a pro-life clinic to advertise abortions on behalf of the State and its abortion mills… . If the State Attorney General appeals, we will continue to defend our client’s pro-life speech all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.”
The U.S Supreme court decided to hear federal case, National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) v. Becerra, after the the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit upheld the law last year. The NIFLA and two other pregnancy centers filed a lawsuit with the help of Alliance Defending Freedom General Counsel Michael Farris and ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot and co-counsels ADF-allied attorney John Eastman of the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence at Chapman University’s Fowler School of Law, Anne O’Connor of NIFLA, and Dean R. Broyles of The National Center for Law and Policy.
NIFLA founder and president, Thomas Glessner, J.D., said the case could impact all Americans across the political and philosophical spectrums.
“California’s threat to pro-life pregnancy care centers and medical clinics counts among the most flagrant violations of constitutional religious and free speech rights in the nation. The implications of the Supreme Court’s decision in this case will reverberate nationwide, to similar unconstitutional laws in Illinois and Hawaii.
The price of non-compliance with the so-called “FACT Act” is severe: pregnancy resource centers face fines and the loss of medical licenses for noncompliance. This punishment would harm these centers as well as the vulnerable pregnant women to whom these pro-life groups provide free counseling and care.
The 3,000 plus pregnancy resource centers and medical clinics affiliated with NIFLA and our allies outnumber Planned Parenthood centers five to one. Our care and counseling are provided free of charge. No wonder the same abortion industry that claims a right to taxpayer dollars wants to shut us down.”