I wanted to bring you an update on a case that we've been involved in since last year - a case that has significant ramifications for the First Amendment.
As you may recall, we secured an important victory in federal court last fall against the City of Pittsburgh. The issue: an ordinance that violated the constitutional rights of pro-life advocates.
It all began last fall when we filed a federal lawsuit challenging Pittsburgh Ordinance 601.02, which prohibited the distribution of leaflets in the City. Our clients wanted to distribute pro-life leaflets - in the days leading up to the November election - on unoccupied parked cars without fear of fine, penalty or censure.
Our lawsuit was clear: the ordinance was unconstitutional. It was overbroad, vague and impinged on the rights of free speech and due process that the United States Constitution guarantees.
The court acted quickly. It granted our request for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) in October, clearing the way for our clients to distribute the materials before the November election. U.S. District Judge David S. Cercone found that our arguments demonstrated "a likelihood of success on the merits" and enjoined the City from enforcing the ordinance. In February, Judge Cercone issued an order granting our motion for a preliminary injunction, explaining that the City's desire to control littering by barring the distribution of the leaflets did not outweigh the constitutional rights of our clients.
In recent months, we have focused on efforts to permanently resolve this case. And, now the City of Pittsburgh is moving forward to remove this troubling ordinance, which was adopted in 2008. The City already has agreed to pay $35,000 in attorneys' fees to settle the suit and is moving forward with legislation in City Council to repeal it.
In an editorial entitled - "Speech is speech: Pittsburgh must remove an offensive ban" - the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette concluded:
"The purpose of the 2008 ordinance was to restrict leafleting in the interests of curbing littering. In a city where litter is a problem, especially Downtown, the ordinance made some superficial sense. But what seems a potential source of litter to one person is free speech to another -- and that right isn't superficial, it's fundamental." As the Post-Gazette put it: "It doesn't matter whether the speech takes a position that is pro-life or pro-choice - it's all protected."
I will keep you posted on when this problematic ordinance is taken off the books in the City of Pittsburgh.
The American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ) represents Troy Newman, a former board member of the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), in two critical First Amendment cases involving a journalistic investigation of the abortion industry that uncovered extensive evidence of a willingness to engage in,
New evidence was disclosed this week that further proves abortion clinics have profited from the sale of aborted baby body parts. Despite the abortion lobby’s attempts to drown out the facts with distracting and deceptive tactics , the House Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives uncovered hard...
“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.” The definition of “torture” has a new meaning. According to a recent United Nations (UN) report , pro-life laws now constitute “torture.” That’s right. Pro-life laws...
Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky joined with the ACLU to sue the state of Indiana over a recent law passed to prohibit abortions based only on the unborn child’s sex, race, color, national origin, ancestry, or disability, including Down Syndrome. Claiming that the bill places an undue...