In a victory for pro-life advocates who provide abortion alternatives for women outside abortion clinics in New Hampshire, a federal judge put a halt to the state law that establishes a buffer zone preventing free speech.
Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys and allied attorneys secured a court order Wednesday against a New Hampshire law that allows the creation of 25-foot censorship zones in which no person may speak, stand, or even enter on public ways and sidewalks outside of abortion facilities. In June, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously struck down a similar law in McCullen v. Coakley, a case ADF attorneys and allied attorneys filed in 2008.
The order prohibits enforcement of the New Hampshire law until the court decides whether to issue an injunction against it, which the court says it will consider if such censorship zones are drawn. Because no such zones have been drawn yet, the law is on hold indefinitely.
The law explicitly exempts abortion facility escorts, allowing such individuals to engage in speech and expressive activities favorable to abortion – encouraging and compelling women to enter the abortion facilities and continue with the abortions – while prohibiting pro-life advocates from engaging in any expressive activity within the zones.
“Americans have the freedom to talk to whomever they please on public sidewalks, as the Supreme Court recently affirmed,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Matt Bowman. “This order guarantees that the government can’t enforce the censorship zone law either before or after any such zones are drawn until the court rules on our argument that the law violates freedom of speech.”
ADF attorneys secured a temporary restraining order against the law on July 9. The law explicitly exempts abortion facility escorts from being subject to the zones, thereby allowing such individuals to engage in speech and expressive activities favorable to abortion – encouraging and compelling women to enter the abortion facilities and continue with the abortions – within the zones while prohibiting pro-life advocates from engaging in any expressive activity.
On June 10, New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan signed S.B. 319-FN, which created the anti-speech zones. Violators face a minimum fine of $100 and possibly further action from the attorney general or appropriate county attorney.
On behalf of several pro-life advocates, ADF filed the lawsuit, Reddy v. Foster, in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire together with allied attorneys Michael J. Tierney, Michael DePrimo, and Mark Rienzi, professor of constitutional law at Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law.
“New Hampshire has created an expansive anti-speech zone that cannot survive constitutional scrutiny,” said Tierney, with the Manchester firm of Wadleigh, Starr & Peters, PLLC, and one of more than 2,400 attorneys allied with ADF. “As the Supreme Court recently indicated, censorship zones have no place on public ways and sidewalks.”