Standing Up for Free Speech

It was cold and raining hard in Washington, D.C. yesterday. A crowd of several hundred still gathered in front of the Supreme Court all morning in spite of the bad weather. Half the crowd was there in support of the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA), the other half was there representing NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood.

Inside the Supreme Court, Mike Farris from Alliance Defending Freedom was arguing against the State of California in support of free speech. The Justices on the Supreme Court listened to the importance of protecting pro-life pregnancy centers in California from being compelled to advertise abortion.

The State of California passed a law known as the “Fact Act” which would force pregnancy resource centers to post notices about abortion access. ADF was joined in their arguments by dozens of “amicus briefs” (arguments to the court in support of a position) – including one that The Family Foundation signed. The government should not be able to force anyone to support a particular viewpoint – especially one as important as life.

Hundreds of people from across the country gathered outside of the Supreme Court to support the pregnancy resource centers and freedom of speech. Hundreds of other people stood outside to oppose the pregnancy resource centers and to support the Fact Act.

I was there with Victoria Cobb representing The Family Foundation. Victoria Cobb spoke in support of free speech, and warned that the kind of state power being used in California has already been proposed in Virginia. It was back in 2010 that then-Senator Ralph Northam proposed a bill which would have compelled every pregnancy resource center in Virginia to post a big notice on the front door of their clinics – scaring women away from these places which are designed to help them.

I tried to speak with those from NARAL and Planned Parenthood, to ask them why they support the Fact Act. No one was willing to talk to me. So I asked several activists to hold a pro-free speech sign, telling them that there was a new law which requires everyone in front of the Supreme Court to hold the signs from the opposing side.

Not surprisingly, no one was interested in holding those signs. They didn’t like the idea that the state would compel them to hold a sign promoting an idea directly opposed to the reason they were there. They understood that such a regulation would be unjust.

Hopefully all nine of the Supreme Court Justices understand this, too. We expect a decision to be announced sometime this summer.