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How Pittsburgh Is Denying Your Free Speech

By Caroline Roberts posted on:
December 22, 2020

On Pittsburgh’s public sidewalks, or anywhere else in the United States for that matter, your free speech is protected by the First Amendment.

But in 2005, city officials decided that in certain designated areas of Pittsburgh, you aren’t allowed to express a certain opinion with which they disagree.

This is a clear violation of the First Amendment.

So where does Pittsburgh believe that you don’t have the right to free speech?

Within exactly 15 feet of the entrances of Pittsburgh’s two abortion clinics.

And what kind of beliefs are you barred from expressing outside of these clinics? Pro-life beliefs.

Nikki Bruni and her friends learned this through experience.

Nikki and her friends were silenced because Pittsburgh officials don’t approve of their views.

But Pittsburgh’s unconstitutional ordinance doesn’t only affect pro-life sidewalk counselors—it affects women considering an abortion who want to learn about other options but don’t know where to find them. This law keeps these women from being fully informed before they make a permanent choice.

Ideas have consequences, and when certain viewpoints are kept from being expressed, it not only keeps people from learning about other views, but also sends a message about the value of free speech.

Pittsburgh’s ordinance clearly violates the First Amendment, and it also ignores a Supreme Court ruling from 2014 in another ADF case: McCullen v. Coakley.

“The right to free speech is for everyone, not just those in power,” said ADF Vice President of Appellate Advocacy John Bursch. “The government can’t silence speakers just because it doesn’t like what they have to say, and as Pittsburgh’s mayor made clear, the ban’s purpose was to prevent women seeking abortions from hearing messages of hope, encouragement, and true choice. The city can still prosecute pro-life sidewalk counselors and censor pro-life advocates because of a poor ruling from the 3rd Circuit, and until the Supreme Court weighs in, the threat remains.”

In March, ADF appealed this case to the U.S. Supreme Court, and the question at hand—whether the government can silence views they disagree with—is central to our freedom of speech.

If the government can dictate what you’re allowed to say and where you’re allowed to say it, that’s not free speech at all.

Share this important video with friends and family so they can be informed to stand for our free speech.

Caroline Roberts, Strategic Communications Writer

Caroline Roberts

Strategic Communications Writer

Caroline Roberts serves as a Strategic Communications Writer at Alliance Defending Freedom.


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