Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Yes, Pittsburgh, the First Amendment Applies to Pro-Life People, Too

 

You’d think that a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down as unconstitutional a Massachusetts “buffer zone” law that banned pro-life speech within 35 feet of abortion businesses would make for “settled law.”

ICYMI, here is the story of the heroic lady, Eleanor McCullen who won that crucial victory in June 2014:

But as much as pro-abortion activists chant “hey-hey, hee-haw…Roe v. Wade is settled law…” and claim that killing unborn babies is a “constitutional right” they still don’t seem to get that there is an actual, explicit constitutional right — free speech — that isn’t suddenly invalidated when the topic is the secular sacrament of abortion.

Case in point: Pittsburgh imposed in 2005 a 15-foot speech censorship bubble around any “establishment providing therapeutic, preventative, corrective, healing and health-building treatment services on an outpatient basis by physicians, dentists and other practitioners.” Pretty plainly, shielding abortion businesses from that nasty little free speech thing was a primary objective of the measure. And it is being enforced by the current mayor of Pittsburgh, who voted for the speech suppression measure when he was on the city council.

Alliance Defending Freedom filed a federal lawsuit shortly after the Supreme Court decision in McCullen challenging the unconstitutional ordinance that creates hundreds of censorship zones throughout the city that ban leafleting and other free speech.

With the overwhelming free speech win in McCullen being merely months old, the federal district court nonetheless ruled in March 2015 to keep the ordinance in place and to partially dismiss the plaintiff’s claims.

ADF immediately appealed to the 3rd Circuit, arguing that “the Supreme Court made that clear when it affirmed the long-recognized fact that public streets and sidewalks are places where free speech is highly protected. And that “these kinds of censorship zones are clearly unconstitutional.”

The 3rd Circuit did the right thing Wednesday, and ruled to reinstate the lawsuit. The court wrote:

“This case calls for nothing more than a straightforward application of McCullen—the Ordinance imposes the same kind of burden on speech, the same less burdensome options are available, and the City has similarly failed to try or to consider those alternatives to justify its Ordinance…,” the 3rd Circuit wrote in its opinion. “The recent instruction from McCullen and the factual allegations of the Complaint combine to require that we vacate the District Court’s grant of the City’s motion to dismiss the Plaintiffs’ free speech claims…. We reverse so that the Plaintiffs’ claims may be aired and assessed by the standard that McCullen now requires.”

Hopefully, a victory in this case leads to settled-settled law — that free speech can’t be limited just because the abortion industry and its political patrons understand that when women and girls know there’s help and hope for their babies, they are less likely to allow an abortionist to kill them.

There are 13 comments.

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  1. Casey Inactive

    I walk by the painted sidewalk bubble line quite often. It’s ludicrous. As if the 3 strides matter.

    • #1
    • June 3, 2016, at 6:32 PM PDT
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  2. civil westman Inactive

    No law counter to progressive rubrics is ever settled. The mascot of the modern liberal is the stinkbug; no matter what, they keep coming back at you.

    • #2
    • June 3, 2016, at 6:55 PM PDT
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  3. I Walton Member

    civil westman:No law counter to progressive rubrics is ever settled.

    Hollywood tells us wolves can be held off as long as we can stoke the fire and shoot them. Eventually we run out of wood and bullets and they know it.

    • #3
    • June 4, 2016, at 5:39 AM PDT
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  4. PHCheese Member

    This in a town that’s 60% Catholic. Go figure.

    • #4
    • June 4, 2016, at 2:38 PM PDT
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  5. Casey Inactive

    The mayor is 60 percent Catholic too.

    • #5
    • June 4, 2016, at 4:13 PM PDT
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  6. Blue State Blues Member
    Blue State BluesJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I am not a lawyer (and I don’t play one on TV), but from a legal standpoint, is there any such thing as “settled law?” It seems that it just means a law that the left likes. Either it is a law or not; the penalties for disobedience do not depend on whether it is “settled.”

    It seems similar to “settled science.”

    • #6
    • June 4, 2016, at 6:09 PM PDT
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  7. PHCheese Member

    Casey:The mayor is 60 percent Catholic too.

    Indeed.

    • #7
    • June 4, 2016, at 8:02 PM PDT
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  8. Tim H. Member

    Casey:I walk by the painted sidewalk bubble line quite often. It’s ludicrous. As if the 3 strides matter.

    Casey, can you tell me where this is? I’m going to be back in Pgh. this summer and have never seen such a thing before.

    • #8
    • June 5, 2016, at 9:21 AM PDT
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  9. Casey Inactive

    Tim H.:

    Casey:I walk by the painted sidewalk bubble line quite often. It’s ludicrous. As if the 3 strides matter.

    Casey, can you tell me where this is? I’m going to be back in Pgh. this summer and have never seen such a thing before.

    Planned parenthood on the 900 block of Liberty Ave. Near Amazing Books and Mike & Tony’s Gyros.

    When will you be in?

    • #9
    • June 5, 2016, at 5:17 PM PDT
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  10. DJ EJ Member

    “establishment providing therapeutic, preventative, corrective, healing and health-building treatment services on an outpatient basis by physicians, dentists and other practitioners.”

    What’s provided at an abortion clinic doesn’t fall under any of these types of services. It’s not therapeutic, corrective, healing, or health-building, as pregnancy is healthy, the natural result of conception, and is not a disease or ailment to be corrected, while having an abortion harms women physically and psychologically. What is the legal definition of preventative in this ordinance? Perhaps it’s left purposely vague to allow for the prevention of bringing pregnancies to term.

    • #10
    • June 5, 2016, at 5:41 PM PDT
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  11. Tim H. Member

    Casey:

    Tim H.:

    Casey:I walk by the painted sidewalk bubble line quite often. It’s ludicrous. As if the 3 strides matter.

    Casey, can you tell me where this is? I’m going to be back in Pgh. this summer and have never seen such a thing before.

    Planned parenthood on the 900 block of Liberty Ave. Near Amazing Books and Mike & Tony’s Gyros.

    When will you be in?

    Teaching at Pitt from June 26—August 4.

    • #11
    • June 5, 2016, at 7:29 PM PDT
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  12. Greg Scott Contributor
    Greg Scott

    Blue State Blues: It seems similar to “settled science.”

    Exactly my point, BSB! :)

    • #12
    • June 6, 2016, at 9:50 AM PDT
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  13. Philip Devine Inactive

    I doubt that there is any such thing as settled law. Even unanimous decisions of the Supreme Court have been overruled. And this observation applies equally to decisions we like and to decisions we dislike.

    Nonetheless, I am old enough to remember when it was progressive to defend the free speech rights even of dedicated opponents of free speech. As pro-life advocates and climate change skeptics are not.

    And freedom of religion applied even to the most oddball groups, Jehovah’s Witnesses for example. The refusal to salute the flag, and the refusal to bake wedding cakes for same-sex couples, are both matters of conscience in the same sense.

    What has changed?

    • #13
    • June 18, 2016, at 5:00 PM PDT
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