“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” – First Amendment
On March 13th one of the most important cases concerning the freedom of speech was argued before the United States Supreme Court, NIFLA v. Becerra.
The central issue at stake, in this case, is whether the government can compel organizations and individuals to share a message that is fundamentally in opposition to the organization’s purpose or an individual’s belief.
In 2015, AB 775, the Reproductive FACT Act, was passed in California. The FACT Act mandated both licensed and unlicensed pregnancy resource clinics (PRC’s) to post large signs with information about abortion and contraception services provided by the state.
AB 775 is about freedom of speech and pushing a pro-choice agenda. This can be seen in the fact that 98% of the clinics subject to this law are pro-life. Compelling PRC’s to share about abortion in such a detailed manner is wholly against the PRC’s purpose.
It was argued that the reason for the law is that pro-life PRC’s are manipulating women into a carrying out an unwanted pregnancy.
During a visit to a pregnancy resource center, however, the woman is counseled on all of her options. Even abortion is discussed. While these resource centers hope the woman will choose to keep her baby, they do not force her into a decision, and they will support her after regardless of her decision.
Josh McClure, a pregnancy center director, said this law will “require us to use our walls as a billboard to promote abortion.”
The case was argued before the Supreme Court of the United States on March 13th. Attorney, Michael Farris, arguing on the behalf of the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) said: “A government that tells you what you can’t say is dangerous, but a government that tells you what you must say—under threat of severe punishment—is alarming.”
Should the United States Supreme Court Justices deliver an opinion in favor of the California law, the first amendment as we know it will be no longer exist with the same power and protection it has afforded the American people for centuries. The opinion from the Supreme Court is slated to be published sometime in June. Let’s hope the Justices keep the First Amendment intact and protect our freedom to speak or not speak certain messages.