ADF to 1st Circuit: NH law creating censorship zones must go
Attorney sound bite: Steven H. Aden
WHO: ADF Senior Counsel Steven H. Aden and ADF-allied attorney Michael Tierney
WHAT: Available to media following oral arguments in Reddy v. Foster
WHEN: Thursday, Dec. 8, immediately following hearing, which begins at 9:30 a.m. EST
WHERE: U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit, 1 Courthouse Way, MA Panel Courtroom, Boston
BOSTON – Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Steven H. Aden and ADF-allied attorney Michael Tierney will be available for media interviews Thursday following Tierney’s oral arguments before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit on behalf of pro-life advocates who are challenging New Hampshire’s censorship zone law.
The law allows the creation of 25-foot censorship zones in which no person may speak, stand, or even enter on public ways and sidewalks outside of abortion facilities. In June 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously struck down a similar law in McCullen v. Coakley, a case ADF attorneys and allied attorneys filed in 2008.
“Americans have the freedom to peacefully speak with whomever they please on public sidewalks, as the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed only two years ago,” said Aden. “We are asking the 1st Circuit to reinstate this lawsuit because the pro-life advocates we represent are clearly at risk of having their constitutionally protected freedom of speech violated by this law.”
The pro-life advocates obtained a temporary court order in July 2014 that prohibited enforcement of the New Hampshire law, but a federal district court later dismissed the lawsuit. On behalf of the pro-life advocates, ADF attorneys appealed that decision to the 1st Circuit and filed their opening brief in August of this year.
As the brief explains, “The District Court observed, correctly, that the statute allows the private [abortion] facilities to erect speech bans in ‘minutes,’ without police approval, ‘for any reason or for no reason at all.’ The Supreme Court, in contrast, recently struck down a statute banning speech in similar zones where the government failed to prove the statute was necessary. Despite this novel restriction, the District Court held that the sidewalk counselors lack imminent injury and standing to challenge the Act on its face. This Court recognizes that a plaintiff need not wait until her speech is banned. The government may not delegate to private parties on one side of a contentious debate the authority to ban the speech of their ideological opponents in a matter of minutes, and then claim the targets of such a law face no impending injury. This Court should reverse and remand the District Court’s dismissal order.”
The law explicitly exempts abortion facility escorts from being subject to the zones, thereby allowing such individuals to engage in speech and expressive activities favorable to abortion—encouraging and compelling women to enter the abortion facilities and continue with the abortions—within the zones while prohibiting pro-life advocates from engaging in any expressive activity.
In 2014, New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan signed S.B. 319-FN, which created the zones. Violators face a minimum fine of $100 and possibly further action from the attorney general or appropriate county attorney.
“New Hampshire has created an expansive anti-speech zone that cannot survive constitutional scrutiny,” said Tierney, with the Manchester firm of Wadleigh, Starr & Peters, PLLC, and one of more than 3,100 private attorneys allied with ADF. “As the U.S. Supreme Court indicated so recently, censorship zones have no place on public ways and sidewalks.”
- Pronunciation guide: Tierney (TEER'-nee)
Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
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