This is BIG news!
The United States Supreme Court has announced that it will hear the case involving a new California law forcing all pregnancy resource centers, regardless of their life-affirming missions, to advertise the state’s abortion services to their clients (sound a little familiar?). The law is known as the California Reproductive FACT Act.
On behalf of the pregnancy resource centers, the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) challenged the law in the case National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) v. Becerra. However, the Ninth Circuit Court ruled against them, so they appealed to the Supreme Court. Now, the high court is taking up the case and will decide whether or not the law violates the First Amendment’s free speech clause.
Kevin Theriot, Senior Counsel and Vice President of the Center for Life with ADF, stated:
“It’s unthinkable for the government to force anyone to provide free advertising for the abortion industry. This is especially true of pregnancy care centers, which exist to care for women who want to have their babies. The state shouldn’t have the power to punish anyone for being pro-life. Instead, it should protect freedom of speech and freedom from coerced speech.”
So why is this news so HUGE?
(1) Attorney Noel Sterett from Mauck & Baker, LLC (co-counsel in the lawsuit filed on behalf of pregnancy centers over SB1564) informed us that the Supreme Court only grants about 80 requests, out of the approximately 8,000 they receive every year. In about two thirds of those cases, the Supreme Court reverses the decision of the lower court. But it get’s better…
In their statement released after the big news was made, attorneys at Mauck & Baker explained:
“The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the pregnancy care centers, so the Supreme Court’s decision to grant a hearing suggests that at least four justices think the Ninth Circuit got the case wrong and that this case is significant enough to warrant the U.S. Supreme Court’s time.”
(2) According to attorneys, the Supreme Court’s decision will no doubt affect how the courts handle the lawsuits filed over SB1564 in Illinois.[If you remember, this law forces all pro-life doctors, pharmacists, and pregnancy resource centers in Illinois to refer their clients for abortions and talk about its so called “benefits.” SB 1564 amends the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act, and after it was signed by Governor Bruce Rauner, several lawsuits were filed on behalf of pro-life medical professionals and pregnancy resource centers all throughout the state. Thanks to their fantastic attorneys at Alliance Defending Freedom and Mauck & Baker, a preliminary injunction (temporary relief from the law) was granted to all pro-life doctors and PRCs, until the case was fully litigated.]
Although the California and Illinois laws have their differences, they both involve violations by the state against the First Amendment, which established a prohibition against compelled speech. What the Supreme Court decides will therefore have an impact on the way the courts handle the cases in Illinois.
Will this Supreme Court decision be a game changer for Illinois pro-lifers affected by SB1564?
We will keep you posted. Stay tuned.
The full statement released by attorneys at Mauck & Baker:
NIFLA Supreme Court Case to Impact Illinois Pregnancy Centers
By Attorneys Noel W. Sterett and Whit Brisky
Great news! Yesterday, the Supreme Court decided to review a case out of California, which has the potential of helping pregnancy care centers across the country. The issue in the California case, National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra, is whether a state law which requires all pregnancy care centers to provide abortion disclosures violates the First Amendment. In practice, this law requires pro-life pregnancy centers to post information about where women can find abortion providers.
The Alliance Defending Freedom, which is representing the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) in that case, has argued that this law compels pregnancy centers to provide free advertising for the abortion industry and is unconstitutional, coerced speech. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the pregnancy care centers, so the Supreme Court’s decision to grant a hearing suggests that at least four justices think the Ninth Circuit got the case wrong and that this case is significant enough to warrant the U.S. Supreme Court’s time.
The Supreme Court only grants about 80 out of 8,000 requests a year. As you know, we have two very similar cases in Illinois—one in federal court and one in state court. They involve a different law, Illinois SB 1564, which amended the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act to compel pregnancy centers to make abortion referrals and speak of the supposed benefits of abortion. Both cases allege the state violated the well-established First Amendment prohibition against compelling speech. While we have favorable injunctions in place in both Illinois cases, the Supreme Court’s decision in the California case will undoubtedly determine how the courts handle our two cases on the merits. If you or your pregnancy center would like to stay informed, click here to subscribe to email updates. If you’d like to learn how you can participate in the Supreme Court case, please send us at Mauck & Baker an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.