California law would allow the state to control free speech, says AMAC – ‘It’s an infamous piece of legislation that directly and blatantly violates the right of free speech’
WASHINGTON, DC, Jan 26 – The Association of Mature American Citizens [AMAC] sought last week to focus attention on a pending Supreme Court case that poses a new threat to our Constitutional right of free speech.
AMAC president Dan Weber said that a news article posted on the AMAC Web site last week caught the attention of the association’s membership offering their own comments on the matter. But, he added, apparently independent media outlets remain unaware of its importance or are choosing to ignore its significance.
“The case involves a California law that requires pro-life crisis-pregnancy centers to promote abortion in their ads that offer right to life counseling and services,” Weber explained. He called it an “infamous” piece of legislation that directly and blatantly violates the right of free speech by compelling those centers to include abortion as an option in their ads.
The National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) is the plaintiff in the case against the state of California. Forty-one organizations that “advocate for free speech, religious liberty, and the rights of the unborn” filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of NIFLA’s claim. In it they explained that “In this case, the state knowsfull well that it is compelling speech, and it knows fullwell that it is compelling speech on matters of deepmoral, religious, and political dispute.”
Says Weber: “what part of the first amendment does California not understand? It states clearly that no law can be enacted ‘respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech.’ It seems to me that that is exactly what California did when it enacted its law forcing pro-life advocates to publicly acknowledge abortion as an alternative. What’s next? Will they pass a law compelling brick-and-mortar retailers to include a message that the same products they sell are available online from Web-based vendors such as Amazon?”
Weber said that this case is not about abortion or the pro-life movement; it is about free speech. And he pointed to a Supreme Court case that was heard in 1949 and in which Justice William O. Douglas wrote the majority opinion. Douglas explained clearly what the fuss is all about in that opinion: “The function of free speech under our system of government is to invite dispute. It may indeed best serve its high purpose when it induces a condition of unrest, creates dissatisfaction with conditions as they are, or even stirs people to anger. Speech is often provocative and challenging. It may strike at prejudices and preconceptions that have profound unsettling effects as it pressures for the acceptance of an idea.”
Weber pointed out that “It was the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco that declared the state’s law is Constitutional because it ‘regulates only unprotected commercial speech.’ In other words, the court is claiming that non-profit pro-life counselors should be treated as commercial entities because they engage in fund-raising. If that’s what they believe then all nonprofit organizations that engage in fund raising need beware. Mark Rienzi, a prominent professor of law, says that ‘standard would turn every nonprofit in the country into a commercial speaker and give the government enormous power to regulate the speech of every nonprofit’-even your church around the corner.”
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