Pro-life group wins
reprieve in court

By Ron Strom

A judge has allowed a pro-life group to continue flying its large aerial banners displaying grisly images of aborted baby parts over a California beach town by signing a temporary restraining order that prevents a city ordinance banning all fly-over banners from taking effect.

As reported by WorldNetDaily, the Thomas More Law Center filed a federal civil-rights lawsuit against the city of Huntington Beach on behalf of the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform and its executive director, Gregg Cunningham, asking the court to declare the ordinance unconstitutional and to enjoin its enforcement.

One of CBR’s aerial banners flies above a shoreline.

The Center for Bio-Ethical Reform began its campaign to show the result of abortion by driving hundreds of miles of Los Angeles freeways in trucks with billboard-sized photos of aborted babies on every side. This year, the organization expanded the campaign to include giant banners pulled by planes above heavily populated areas such as beaches. Aerial banners are a common form of advertising in the beach cities of Southern California. The organization also used the flying billboards in the Boston, Cape Cod and Miami areas.

According to the lawsuit, filed Oct. 1, the new ordinance is unconstitutional because it totally bans a certain form of speech and prohibits an effective medium of communication.

On Wednesday, the day the law was to take effect, U.S. District Judge Alicemarie Stotler signed the temporary restraining order barring enforcement of the ordinance until the injunction hearing scheduled for Nov. 1.

“We are very pleased that the temporary restraining order was issued,” said Robert Muise, associate counsel with the Thomas More Law Center, in a statement. “The law is clear that even a momentary loss of First Amendment liberties constitutes irreparable injury. It was necessary to stop this law before it went into effect, and the next step is to get this law off the books permanently through an injunction.”

According to Huntington Beach Councilman Ralph Bauer, the aerial banner issue began with noise complaints from city residents and culminated in the passage of the ban. Bauer, who voted against the ordinance, acknowledged that some on the City Council mentioned the anti-abortion banners in arguing in favor of the prohibition.

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