Jubilee Campaign's Law of Life Project joins their client, Austin LifeCare, a pregnancy resource center that has been well-serving pregnant women in Texas since 1984, in celebrating a victory in federal court, as Austin City Ordinance (Chapter 10-10) which, without any justification unconstitutionally and nonsensically abridged Austin Life Care's rights to freedom of speech, association, due process and religious free exercise, was struck down for unconstitutional vagueness and a permanent injunction against its enforcement was entered by the court.
Contact: Samuel B. Casey, Jubilee Campaign, 703-624-4092
AUSTIN, Texas, June 24, 2014 /Christian Newswire/ -- Attorneys with Jubilee Campaign's Law of Life Project join the Liberty Institute and Alliance Defending Freedom in celebrating Judge Yeakel's ruling yesterday enjoining the Austin City Ordinance (Chapter 10-10) as void for vagueness. This ordinance was passed by the Austin City Council in January 2012 and required local pregnancy resource centers to display signs containing specific language at the entrance to their facilities, and imposed criminal fines on any center that refused to post the signs. The court's ruling follows a two-day bench trial conducted in April 2012.
The ordinance required pro-life centers to post negative signs simply because the centers speak to women about pregnancy. The ordinance effectively exempted abortion facilities from posting signs about services they do not offer because the law does not apply to facilities that have full-time doctors, even if those doctors aren't involved when abortion workers talk to women. Abortion centers are able to afford full-time doctors because they charge women fees, but pro-life centers often cannot afford full-time doctors because all of their services are free. Under the ordinance, pro-life centers that don't offer medical services would have been required to post negative signs even if the centers never claim they are medical. Pro-life centers like LifeCare that are under the direction of a licensed physician and have part-time licensed physicians performing or supervising ultrasounds and pregnancy testing would still, then, have been obligated to post a sign declaring that the facility is not licensed to offer ultrasounds—even though there is no such thing as a facility license to perform ultrasounds, and, therefore, centers cannot obtain such licenses.
Because Judge Yeakel's ruling found the statute void for vagueness, he did not address the underlying viewpoint discrimination against pro-life centers contained in the ordinance. While Jubilee Campaign's Law of Life Project remains convinced that this case also involves unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination, we are gratified that the court has issued the Permanent Injunction and allowed us to file a motion for attorneys' fees.
General Counsel of the Jubilee Campaign's Law of Life Project, Samuel Casey, who was one of the lawyers who tried the case on behalf of Austin LifeCare said: "As we said from the outset of this case which we commenced almost three years ago, the City of Austin had no real-world justification for its adoption of this unconstitutional Ordinance – only speculation and hyperbole disproved by the true facts presented to them they chose to ignore. We are pleased that the Court has now seen through the City of Austin's charade, permanently enjoined the enforcement of the Ordinance and permitted our client to seek reimbursement for the significant costs and fees it has incurred to defend its constitutional rights. Hopefully, other municipalities will not exhibit the unconstitutional conduct the City of Austin has perpetrated on its citizens."
Austin LifeCare's Executive Director, Pam Cobern, said: "Austin LifeCare has always communicated our services in a clear and appropriate manner. There has never been any basis for this action as we have served the Austin community for over 30 years without a single client complaint. The Austin Ordinance was designed to criminally punish the leadership and volunteer board members of pregnancy centers for no other reason than their moral opposition to abortion. We are thankful that Judge Yeakel saw this ordinance for what it was – an attack on our sincerely held pro-life views."
The Law of Life Project is grateful for the cooperation of our co-counsel and for the partial funding from Alliance Defending Freedom, without which prosecution of this case would not have been possible.
Copies of the litigation documents, including the Court's Findings of Fact & Conclusions of Law, Judgment and Permanent Injunction, as well as the four initial demand letters (dated April 22, September 16, 2011, January 25 and January 30, 2012), the verified amended complaint, an amended motion for preliminary injunction, and an application for temporary restraining order asking the federal court to enjoin the Ordinance (Chapter 10-10) are all available via our website.
JUBILEE CAMPAIGN'S LAW OF LIFE PROJECT IS A PUBLIC INTEREST LEGAL ORGANIZATION DEDICATED TO LEGALLY DEFENDING IN ALL LEGAL FORA THE RIGHT TO LIFE AND DIGNITY OF THE HUMAN BEING FROM BIOLOGICAL CONCEPTION UNTIL NATURAL DEATH IN ALL MATTERS WORLDWIDE, INCLUDING THE FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS OF PREGNANCY RESOURCE CENTERS AND HEALTHCARE RIGHT OF CONSCIENCE WHEREVER SUCH A DEFENSE IS REQUIRED. JUBILEE CAMPAIGN IS AN INTERNATIONAL CHARITABLE ORGANIZATION THAT SEEKS TO BE A "VOICE FOR THE VOICELESS" PROMOTING THE HUMAN RIGHTS OF ALL, PARTICULARLY WOMEN AND CHILDREN OF ANY AGE IN COUNTRIES WHICH IMPRISON, TERRORIZE OR OTHERWISE OPPRESS THEM.