A judge ordered the state of California to pay $399,000 to three pro-life pregnancy centers and lawyers after a district court declared the Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care, and Transparency Act unconstitutional, The Christian Post reported.
What’s the story?
In October, U.S. District Court John Houston granted a permanent injunction against the 2015 law that required all licensed pregnancy counseling centers to post signs about the state’s abortion services.
“The law violated freedom of speech,” lawyer Mat Staver, the founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, said in a statement. “The First Amendment protects the right to speak and the right not to speak. Faith-based pro-life pregnancy centers cannot be forced to promote human genocide.”
Lawyers from Liberty Counsel represented Pregnancy and Family Resource Center in San Bernardino, His Nesting Place in Long Beach, and Birth Choice of the Desert in La Quinta in the case.
The three faith-based centers, which offer women resources, counseling, and alternatives to abortion, were forced to post the government’s abortion messaging on their front doors, in the waiting rooms, online, and on all advertising.
“This is a great victory for children, mothers, and families,” Staver said. “Pro-life pregnancy centers will no longer be compelled to speak a message that goes against their mission to save the lives of babies and women.”
What’s the history of the case?
In October 2016, a U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld a lower court’s decision that the law “survives any level of scrutiny” and “does not discriminate based on viewpoint,” according to The Christian Post.
In June, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the lower court’s decision and remanded the case to the district court.
The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the act “unduly burdens protected speech” in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra.
“The unlicensed notice imposes a government-scripted, speaker-based disclosure requirement that is wholly disconnected from California’s informational interest,” Associate Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in the court’s opinion.