(Washington, DC) - The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), focusing on constitutional law, has filed an amicus brief with a federal appeals court backing a decision by the state of Texas to stop providing state funds that end up subsidizing Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest abortion provider.
In a brief filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, the ACLJ urges the appeals court to vacate a preliminary injunction put in place that prohibits Texas from cutting off funds that ultimately benefit Planned Parenthood.
"The Supreme Court has been very clear on this issue - the decision by Texas to determine where it spends its funds is constitutionally sound," said Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the ACLJ. "Texas joins a growing number of states that no longer wants to provide taxpayer funding that end up subsidizing abortion providers. Planned Parenthood cannot legally force the state of Texas to fund its programs. We're asking the appeals court to reject this flawed premise and permit Texas to exercise its constitutionally-protected authority to reject the pro-abortion message and halt funding to programs that support it."
In the brief, posted here, the ACLJ argues that under the Supreme Court's government speech cases, "the Texas Health and Human Services Commission enjoys speaker autonomy to promote a message favoring childbirth over abortion, and to select speakers who are best suited to deliver health services in a manner consistent with that message."
"That same speaker autonomy permits the Commission to exclude from participation in the program grantees who risk garbling or distorting the Commission’s message," the brief asserts. "The Plaintiffs here link the Women’s Health Program in a conspicuous way to one of the nation’s most prominent abortion rights advocates, and thereby undermine the Commission’s intended message. Because Plaintiffs’ identity and mission as Planned Parenthood affiliates are antithetical to the Commission’s pro-life message, the Commission’s autonomy over its message includes the authority to exclude Plaintiffs from participation."
The ACLJ filed the brief on behalf of itself and its Committee to Stop Taxpayer Funding of Abortion, which consists of nearly 40,000 Americans who support the authority of federal, state, and local governments to prevent the direct or indirect subsidizing of abortion through public funds. The brief was also filed on behalf of the Houston Coalition for Life (HCL), which owns and operates a mobile Crisis Pregnancy Center which provides free sonogram services to expectant mothers. The HCL organizes Stand & Pray events outside abortion facilities in Houston, Texas.
The brief concludes that the actions taken by Texas are protected by the First Amendment:
"The First Amendment does not require the Commission to permit plaintiffs’ participation in the program just because they provide women’s health services. Plaintiffs have a First Amendment right to engage in abortion rights advocacy, but they do not have a First Amendment right to undermine Texas’ message disfavoring abortion by publicly and conspicuously linking the Texas Women’s Health Program with Planned Parenthood."
Led by Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow, the ACLJ focuses on constitutional law and is based in Washington, D.C.