SCOTUS Rules Law Requiring Pro-Life Centers to Advertise Abortion Unconstitutional
"It's a victory for all the women who rely upon pregnancy resource centers and turn to them for help."
In a major pro-life victory, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that California’s Reproductive FACT Act is unconstitutional.
Passed in 2015, the law forced pro-life pregnancy centers to post notices on their premises advertising state-funded abortion. Abortion facilities were not burdened with any similar mandate. The National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) challenged the act. They were supported by Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF).
In a close 5-4 decision, Justice Clarence Thomas delivered the majority opinion in favor of the pro-life centers. “The FACT Act unduly burdens protected speech,” he writes. “It imposes a government-scripted, speaker-based disclosure requirement that is wholly disconnected from the State’s informational interest.”
“It’s a victory for all the women who rely upon pregnancy resource centers and turn to them for help,” said Catherine Glenn Foster, head of Americans United for Life (AUL). AUL filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case.
“Free speech is still protected — even for prolifers in California,” ADF president Michael Farris posted on Facebook.
Free Speech at Stake
While the FACT Act threatened to restrict the life-saving work of pro-life pregnancy centers, the issue was even bigger. As NIFLA president Thomas Glessner wrote in March, free speech itself was at stake.
“Americans shouldn’t be forced by the government to promote messages that violate their conscience or with which they fundamentally disagree,” he wrote. He compared the law to requiring the American Lung Association to advertise cigarettes. Or compelling Alcoholics Anonymous to direct their clients to liquor stores.
ADF is “delighted” with the decision, attorney Kristen Waggoner said Tuesday. “We believe that it’s a victory for all Americans to be able to speak and live consistent with their convictions.”
She also called it a “very strong, broad ruling,” in the sense that the majority accepted all of NIFLA’s arguments.
NIFLA is “thrilled” at the Court’s decision. “Praise God, and thank you for all of your prayers,” the pro-life organization tweeted.
We are thrilled to announce that the Supreme Court ruled in our favor this morning with a 5-4 decision. Praise God, and thank you for all of your prayers. The Supreme Court has spoken to #GiveFreeSpeechLife. #SCOTUS #NIFLAvBecerra #ProLife
— NIFLA (@NIFLA) June 26, 2018
Josh Shepherd contributed to this report. See his photos from the steps of the Supreme Court Tuesday.