Washington 5/17/2013 12:25:47 PM
ACLJ & More Than 108,000 Americans Urged Federal Appeals Court to Declare Two Maryland Laws Targeting Crisis Pregnancy Centers Unconstitutional
The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which is fighting ordinances that target crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) in cities across America, today urged a federal appeals court to invalidate two Maryland laws in their entirety. The ACLJ today filed an amicus brief at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit arguing that a federal district court decision issued last year was correct in declaring the Baltimore ordinance unconstitutional. It also urges the invalidation of a similar Montgomery County ordinance.
"What's become clear is the fact that pro-abortion organizations continue to systematically target and punish crisis pregnancy centers across the nation by violating their First Amendment rights," said CeCe Heil, Senior Counsel of the ACLJ. "We have seen a concerted effort by pro-abortion groups to marginalize and distort the message of crisis pregnancy centers. We are asking the full appeals court to protect the First Amendment rights of these centers, and declare the Baltimore and Montgomery County statutes unconstitutional and unenforceable."
A federal district court in 2011 declared the Baltimore law requiring pro-life pregnancy centers to post signs stating they do not refer for abortions or birth-control violates the Freedom of Speech Clause of the First Amendment. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld that decision in June 2012. Now, the full appeals court has decided to rehear the case. In today's friend-of-the-court brief representing more than 108,000 Americans, the ACLJ urges the full appeals court to declare the Baltimore and Montgomery County ordinances unconstitutional.
The ACLJ argues the Baltimore law is not only unconstitutional, but was part of an organized plan by pro-abortion organizations to target crisis pregnancy centers across the country. The brief, posted here, argues: "The various laws imposing disclaimer mandates upon CPCs are not based upon actual evidence of a concrete, non-hypothetical problem necessitating government intervention, but rather are based upon a self-reinforcing echo chamber of pro-abortion advocates’ rhetoric and accusations passed from city to city for the purpose of hampering the efforts of CPCs." The Fourth Circuit will also be reviewing a Montgomery County, Maryland resolution that imposes similar restrictions upon crisis pregnancy centers.
The Baltimore appeal comes as the ACLJ continues to litigate its case against New York City’s law targeting crisis pregnancy centers. The ACLJ recently argued before a federal appeals court in the New York City case that the ordinance violates the constitutionally protected rights to freedom of speech, and due process of law, guaranteed to Plaintiffs by the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
Led by Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow, the American Center for Law and Justice focuses on constitutional law and is based in Washington, D.C. The ACLJ is online at www.aclj.org.