Contact: Brad Dacus, 916-616-4126
WASHINGTON, Dec. 12, 2017 /Christian Newswire/ -- Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) is urging the U.S. Supreme Court to grant review and strike down a Maine statute that treats identical abortion-related speech differently based on the subjective intent of the speaker.
Under the Maine Civil Rights Act, noise that can be heard inside a reproductive health facility like an abortion clinic is punishable—but only if the person making the noise intends to interfere with the delivery of "services" like abortion. Thus, if two groups are standing outside Planned Parenthood, and one group is pleading for the lives of the unborn, while the other group is trying to drown them out with drums and bullhorns, only the pro-lifers could be punished.
Brad Dacus, president of PJI, noted, "For decades, it has been a central principle of First Amendment jurisprudence that the government can regulate speech neutrally to control effects like decibel levels regardless of who is speaking or what they are saying. The government's attempts here to punish speech based on whether the speaker is supporting or opposing abortion is repugnant to free speech and must be struck down."
The lawsuit was filed by a Maine pastor, Andrew March, whose church pleads for the lives of the unborn. The Boston-based First Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the statute, and March's attorneys have now asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review it. Pacific Justice Institute joined and co-funded an amicus brief along with fellow pro-life organizations Life Legal Defense Foundation and the Thomas More Society. The brief was authored by affiliate attorney Deborah Dewart of North Carolina.