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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“It is obvious Attorney General Schneiderman abhors the Christian, pro-life message of our client and is willing to twist the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act to silence any opposition to abortion,” said Roger Gannam, Liberty Counsel’s assistant vice president of legal affairs, previously. “It is inexcusable for the highest legal officer of the State of New York to declare war on free speech and the pro-life message, and we hope the court will turn back this assault on our most cherished liberties.”
LifeNews Note: Mat Staver is the Chairman of Liberty Counsel Action and Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel.