Seeing firsthand the robust debate over a case originating in California and finding its final resting place at the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) was a robust picture of American democracy, the expression of ideals and the exchange of vastly different points of view.
The outcome of the case’s oral arguments will, in essence, affect the freedom of speech in America for many, and in particular for non-profits and the 2700 Pregnancy Medical Centers (PMCs) across the country.
On March 20, the Supreme Court, housed in a building which proudly proclaims, ‘Equal Justice Under Law,’ heard the case of NIFAL vs. Becerra. The nine judges will determine the fate of what has become known as the Reproductive FACT Act of California.
While some 50-plus attorneys, who were involved at various levels sat inside, along with a gallery of concerned citizens, outside on the steps of the Supreme Court both proponents and staunch rivals to this legislation enacted their freedom of speech, the crux of this discussion.
For PMCs, the real question is, ‘Can the government force centers to advertise for abortion providers’ an egregious violation of their code of conduct and convictions to serve women in an unplanned pregnancy. For supporters of the bill, a refusal to understand the authentic medical and social services provided by pregnancy centers was evident.
Like opening day or a great Fourth of July parade, groups were staking out ‘proclamation territory’ starting as early as 8 p.m. the evening before arguments. When a 35-degree rain, accompanied by 18 MPH wind gusts began at 3 a.m., the campus powerhouse, Students for Life, did not waiver in their commitment to secure a rally point for proponents of free speech to meet on the day of arguments.
The pro-life generation is solid in their resolve to support LIFE and today that support was evident as they stood with NIFLA (National Institute for Family and Life Advocates) and ADF (Alliance Defending Freedom), pregnancy center leaders, and countless other groups supporting PMCs in Californian and across the country.
These students literally formed a human fence separating NARAL and Planned Parenthood supporters from #GIVEFREESPEECHLIFE supporters.
Ironically, both groups were prepared with a lineup of speakers, portable sound equipment, signage, buttons, Senate and House leaders speaking for and against the bill, religious and civic leaders speaking for and against the bill, and so much more. Four solid hours of freedom of expression exercised in wind, rain and cold resulted in both sides having their opinions heard.
FOX News was on sight for the aftermath of the event and they caught up with Michael Farris, the CEO of ADF and the lead council in today’s arguments. Farris stated, “We expect that the Supreme Court will uphold the First Amendment and will see the danger in governments compelling anyone — individuals or non-profits — to promote a message that conflicts their beliefs. Threats to one person’s free speech rights is a threat to everyone’s free speech rights.”
The High Court will pass down a ruling no later than June. How great to live in a country where the freedom of expression and speech is a reality, especially when passions and convictions run high.