Pro-Life speech under attack (Liberty Counsel)

Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman
Liberty Counsel

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is seeking to punish and silence pro-life and Christian speech on public sidewalks through a federal lawsuit.

In announcing the lawsuit, Schneiderman said, "We are not a nation where you can choose your point of view," and that pro-life Christians "run their mouths" with "unlawful, un-American rhetoric." He called Christians' efforts to counsel women considering abortion and to advocate for the rights of the unborn "horrifying" and "illegal."

It is inexcusable that the highest legal officer of the State of New York would attack the right of free speech peacefully conducted on public sidewalks. This brazen attempt to undermine the First Amendment is outrageous. Contrary to Attorney General Schneiderman's ignorant statement, the First Amendment protects pro-life and Christian viewpoints on public sidewalks.

Liberty Counsel represents one of the 14 defendants, Scott Fitchett, Jr., a pre-K teacher who has spent Saturdays peacefully sharing the gospel on public sidewalks wherever he goes, including outside the Choices Women's Medical Center abortion facility.

The misguided lawsuit is based on the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE) and similar New York laws which were enacted by Congress to prevent actual violence and physical obstruction of abortion facility entrances. Schneiderman is misusing FACE to shut down peaceful speech on a public sidewalk. The Attorney General's lawsuit against Fitchett is frivolous and has no basis in law or fact.

In an earlier hearing, U.S. District Judge Carol Bagley Amon told participants that leafletting is a "form of really protected speech" and that sidewalks are recognized as the "quintessential public forum."

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Liberty Counsel's extensive pro-life litigation efforts include defending the free speech rights of pro-life counselors. We are in a protracted legal battle against the attacks launched against Sandra Merritt by Planned Parenthood and the State of California. We fight "buffer zone" restrictions on behalf of sidewalk counselors. And we continue challenging Roe v. Wade through state-led initiatives across the nation.

Earlier this month, Liberty Counsel filed an amicus brief to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals defending the Alabama law that prohibits dismemberment abortions of live unborn babies, known as Dilation and Extraction (D&E), based on the medical evidence of pre-borns' ability to feel intense pain.

And at the Supreme Court… Liberty Counsel filed an amicus brief in one of four cases brought before the Court by crisis pregnancy centers challenging the California Reproductive FACT Act as a violation of the First Amendment guarantees of free speech and free exercise of religion.

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