Pittsburgh Poised to Repeal Ordinance Banning Pro-Life Leaflets | American Center for Law and Justice
  Search  |  Login  |  Register

ACLJ Profile Completion

Verified

By Jay Sekulow1311345802000

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.

Latest in
Pro Life

CPC Legal Fight Moves Forward

By Geoffrey Surtees1477677470564

As explained in more detail here , the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently, but only preliminarily, upheld a California law requiring faith-based, pro-life pregnancy centers to tell their clients upfront that might be able to have a free abortion elsewhere. One doesn’t have to think long and...

read more

America – The Land of Equal Opportunity for All

By Nicole Smith1477500643935

A chasm has formed. Deep. Dark. Wide. Death is surely imminent if anyone dare attempt to brave a crossing. I speak of course of America’s political landscape as the presidential election closes in upon us. Women’s rights seem to be the hinge point – for reasons no one need explain. But it is indeed...

read more

True Legacy of 100 Years of Planned Parenthood

By Palmer Williams1477061676239

“100 years strong.” That is what Planned Parenthood and its allies were chanting this weekend on the 100th anniversary of the abortion giant’s founding. Even President Obama tweeted his support. For a century, Planned Parenthood has made it possible for women to determine their own lives. Here's to...

read more

Defending Investigators of Abortion Industry

By ACLJ.org1476974466989

A recent federal court hearing highlighted the importance of protecting the First Amendment rights of investigative journalists – in this instance, individuals exposing illegal and unethical acts of abortion providers and fetal tissue procurement companies and researchers – as well as the public’s...

read more