WATCH: Fight for Free Expression Continues With Oral Arguments in SFLA Lawsuit Against District of Columbia

Caroline Wharton - 29 Sep 2022

In the seemingly never-ending saga of the abortion lobby attempting to stifle pro-life speech, Students for Life of America (SFLA) is pushing back after two SFLA activists were actually arrested for expressing their pro-life opinions via chalk in the District of Columbia. This case has been ongoing since the summer of 2020, but a recent update has occurred with oral arguments just recently happening at the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals. 

Read below to get caught up with this case or watch the livestream from SFLA Staff Writer & Press Strategist Caroline Wharton and SFLA Senior Philanthropy Advisor Warner DePriest discussing the case after getting out of the oral arguments:  


SFLA President Kristan Hawkins discussed what spurred the lawsuit (Frederick Douglass Foundation, Inc.; Students for Life of America; William Cleveland; Robert L. Gurley, Jr.; and Angela Whittington v. District of Columbia) in a 2021 op-ed at Newsweek entitled “Black Preborn Lives Matter — And Americans Must Be Allowed to Say So,” writing:  

“Although the phrase “Black Lives Matter” is emblazoned in permanent paint on Washington D.C.’s streets by order of the D.C. government itself, the same local government has prohibited pro-life advocates from painting the message “Black Preborn Lives Matter” in temporary paint. The D.C. government even allowed protestors to paint “Defund the Police” right next to its own public speech. Participants in an August free speech event cohosted by Students for Life of America and the Frederick Douglass Foundation were not only prohibited by police to paint; two were arrested for chalking our message on the public sidewalk.  

“Our organization received a permit this week from the Metropolitan Police Department, which notes that while a few pro-life activists are allowed to meet this Saturday, they are “not authorized or permitted to paint, chalk, or mark in any manner the street or sidewalk.” The forthcoming ruling will further unpack whether the government in Washington D.C. can engage in viewpoint discrimination, effectively censoring some opinions while giving protections to favored speech.” 

(For more information on these arrests, click HERE to read another SFLA blog on the topic entitled, “The Crime of Children’s Sidewalk Chalk (But Only if You’re Pro-Life).”  

In a press release discussing the oral arguments, SFLA President Kristan Hawkins further reinforced the fact that free speech includes pro-life speech by stating,  

“The abortion lobby continues to shut down pro-life Americans’ free speech without regard to our First Amendment rights, which is viewpoint discrimination. However, believing that children shouldn’t be killed doesn’t make us second class citizens, and we will not stop fighting for our right to talk how the violence of abortion is ending too many black lives in the womb.” 

SFLA Staffer Warner DePriest arrested in front of the Washington D.C. Planned Parenthood facility

After sitting in the courtroom and hearing the oral arguments held on September 28, 2022, SFLA Staff Writer & Press Strategist Caroline Wharton and SFLA Senior Philanthropy Advisor Warner DePriest shared their thoughts on how they felt it went in a SFLA social media livestream (watch it HERE.) Wharton maintained she felt very hopeful, and DePriest stated, “I thought Alliance Defending Freedom did a great job. I’m so proud of their work.”  

As one of the activists that was actually arrested in 2020, DePriest shared his own story in the livestream, as well. He truly felt that being escorted away in the police car was one of the darkest times of his life but because of the support from the pro-life community, he had made it through and had been cleared of his charges.  

We Got Arrested

In the same way that DePriest was helped and given back his voice for the voiceless, if you are also a member of the Pro-Life Generation and your pro-life free speech is being violated, please reach out to [email protected]. Your voice matters in this fight for life, and you deserve to have your rights respected.  

READ NEXT: Pro-Abortion Supporters Are Mean and Extreme: Pro-Lifer Home Raided, Canvasser Shot … Where Is the Line Drawn?  

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