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Ordinance challenged for targeting pro-lifers
Posted By Bob Unruh On 12/28/2013 @ 7:41 pm In Faith,Front Page,Health,Politics,U.S. | No Comments
A team of pro-life advocates who like to try to intervene when women head for an abortion business in West Palm Beach say they unfairly are being targeted by police because officers enforce a noise ordinance only against them.
Not passersby. Not Wendy’s. Not a Pollo Tropical restaurant. And not the abortion business itself.
On appeal to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, Susan Pine and Marilyn Blackburn are asking that a noise ordinance be struck down, or otherwise changed to make it constitutional.
Right now, Pine and Blackburn, who offer to help women facing crisis pregnancies outside the city’s Presidential Women’s Center abortion business, say the city’s enforcement of an ordinance is selective.
According to officials with Liberty Counsel, which is representing the women, the city ordinance “bans all ‘shouting’ and amplified sound within 100 feet of the [abortionists'] property line, regardless of the volume or whether the sound causes any disturbance.”
The legal team reports the city and its police department, however, are “only enforcing this draconian ordinance against the pro-life counselors. Susan Pine has already been fined once for using a megaphone outside PWC, and the city and police have threatened further enforcement and punishment.”
“In the meantime, PWC is free to use its own loudspeakers, passers-by are free to use their radios and iPods, and the nearby Wendy’s and Pollo Tropical restaurants are free to use their drive-thru speaker systems, even though all of them violate this ordinance,” Liberty Counsel explained.
“The Constitution applies throughout the entire city of West Palm Beach, and the city may not create ‘Constitution-free zones’’outside abortion clinics,” said Senior Litigation Counsel Horatio Mihet. He said it is unconstitutional for the city to impose a communicative straitjacket on only those speakers with whom the city disagrees.
“The conspiracy to silence pro-life Americans continues unabated in West Palm Beach,” said Mathew Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel. “This ordinance is not only overly broad but also viewpoint discriminatory and is, therefore, flatly unconstitutional. Liberty Counsel will not stand idly by while government officials – whether they be the attorney general or leaders in the city of West Palm Beach – harass these law-abiding Americans for their pro-life beliefs.”
He cited the attorney general because it was in 2010 when the abortionists convinced U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to file a federal lawsuit against Pine under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, alleging she “obstructed” the entrance to PWC.
Liberty Counsel defended Susan, the lawsuit was dismissed, and the DOJ was required to pay $120,000 for its abuse of power. Federal Judge Kenneth Ryskamp suspected that there was “a concerted effort between the government and PWC . . . to quell Ms. Pine’s activities.”
In its opening brief to the 11th Circuit seeking a preliminary injunction against enforcement of the noise ordinance, Liberty Counsel said the women have used hand-held walkie talkies to communicate with each other, and hand-held loudspeakers because of the “ambient noise” that includes traffic, passersby, businesses, lawnmowers, street sweepers and weather elements.”
The noise ordinance is just the latest effort on the party of “the city, the clinic and even the Department of Justice” to “curb free speech outside the business.” In fact, earlier sound restrictions plans were “invalidated on First Amendment grounds,” officials said.
Shortly after, a city ordinance to create a “buffer zone around the clinic,” and a ban on sound within 100 feet, also was struck down.
WND reported on the most recent conflict. That was when Holder accused Pine of allegedly blocking a car loaded with people trying to get to the entrance to the clinic.
As the judge dismissed the federal complaint brought by Holder, he said, “It is rather curious that the Department of Justice was able to meet with the [Presidential Women's Center in West Palm Beach, Fla.] staff and police officers the very next day after the alleged violations occurred. It is also curious that the government failed to make any efforts to obtain the identities of the passengers who are the alleged victims in this case – the court finds it hard to believe that the government was completely unaware of the existence of the sign-in sheets and video surveillance system.”
The judge said the court “can only wonder whether this action was the product of a concerted effort between the government and the PWC, which began well before the date of the incident at issue, to quell Ms. Pine’s activities rather than to vindicate the rights of those allegedly aggrieved by Ms. Pine’s conduct.
“If this is the case, the court would be inclined to sanction the government with, at a minimum, an adverse inference. Given the absence of further evidence substantiating the court’s suspicions, the court is not authorized to do so,” the judge wrote.
The judge’s 21-page ruling in the case that granted Pine a summary judgment and cleared her of the charges said the entire episode raised questions.
“The court is at a loss as to why the government chose to prosecute this particular case in the first place,” Ryskamp wrote. “The record [is] almost entirely devoid of evidence that Ms. Pine acted with the prohibited motive and intent or that Ms. Pine engaged in any unlawful conduct. The government has failed to create a genuine issue for trial on all three elements of its FACE (Federal Access to Clinic Entrances) claim, and Ms. Pine is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
The newest case cites city violations of the right to freedom of speech, free exercise of religion, retaliation and equal protection as well as state law.
It points out there is no constitutional right to be absolutely free from being exposed to speech with which one disagrees on a public street in America.
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