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

Justice Denied for the Unborn in Texas

By Michelle Terry1487863412886

It has long been said, “Justice delayed is justice denied.” Yesterday, thanks to a decision issued from a federal judge in Texas, justice has again been denied to the most vulnerable among us – the unborn. In the case titled Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas Family Planning v. Smith , Judge Sam...

read more

Big Abortion is Proof that Nero is Alive

By Nicole Smith1487348741784

There has been a veil cast across society. A mirage so effective it’s nearly impossible to look through and see the reality of our present circumstances. TeenVogue, a publication targeting young teen girls, gave us a small glimpse of our true reality when it published its “Post Abortion Gift...

read more

Planned Parenthood’s Spin Factory

By Nicole Smith1486585585940

There are moments in life that you come across something that just confounds your senses, where you pause momentarily to try to soak in exactly what you’ve just witnessed. Does it match your worldview or is it in direct violation? Does it pluck at your heartstrings genuinely or is it fundamentally...

read more

Today We March for Life

By ACLJ.org1485522000000

Today tens of thousands of Americans gather in our nation’s capital to stand for the sanctity of human life at the 2017 March for Life . The March for Life comes at a critical time. In recent days, we have seen legislative efforts to protect the sanctity of human life. We're encouraged by the...

read more