From the SFLA Blog

Students for Life of America and the Frederick Douglass Foundation again Take the District of Columbia to Court in Appeal of Free Speech Case. 

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Kristi Hamrick - 18 Feb 2022
Students for Life of America and the Frederick Douglass Foundation again Take the District of Columbia to Court in Appeal of Free Speech Case. 

“Pro-abortion leaders in the nation’s capital must not be allowed to violate the U.S. Constitution by criminalizing pro-life speech they don’t like,” said SFLA’s Kristan Hawkins. “Blocking pro-life students from peacefully chalking Black Preborn Lives Matter is viewpoint discrimination. It’s striking that one of the few ways for protestors to get the attention of D.C. officials is not by violence or vandalism, but by voicing love and concern for the preborn.” 

“This case is about the constitutionality of government officials taking sides in a public debate,” from Frederick Douglass Foundation, Inc., et al. v. District of Columbia, Appeal No. 21-7108 (D.C. Cir.) 

WASHINGTON D.C. (02-18-2022) – Students for Life of America (SFLA) and the Frederick Douglass Foundation (FDF) through their attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) filed an appeal this week in what is now an on-going free speech case against the District of Columbia. Following the violence of Black Live Matter protestors along with city-allowed painting of Black Lives Matter = Defunding Police on streets, SFLA and FDF organized a peaceful protest in 2020 to pray, peacefully protest, and paint BLACK PREBORN LIVES MATTER in temporary paint, as D.C. police advised. Click here to read the ADF filed brief. 

As the Washington Post reported, police showed up at the event, telling those at the scene that they could not paint or chalk BLACK PREBORN LIVES MATTER, even though chalking is common practice at such protests. Two students were arrested by police as they began marking on a sidewalk outside of a Planned Parenthood in the nation’s capital, leading to legal action. 

Obama appointed U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg dismissed the case first brought, claiming that because police did not have concerns about a violent reaction from the peaceful protestors, applying ordinances against them and not others was understandable.  

ADF attorney Erin Hawley said: “The District of Columbia singled out Frederick Douglass Foundation and Students for Life of America for discriminatory treatment based on their pro-life message. The Metropolitan Police Department turned a blind eye towards certain favored speech while shutting down pro-life speech with which it disagreed. This is the essence of viewpoint discrimination and selective enforcement in violation of the First and Fifth Amendments.” 

Click here for a video at Breitbart that illustrated D.C. police treatment of pro-life Americans compared to Black Lives Matter protestors.  

In the appeal, ADF attorneys note: “It was not until Plaintiffs—pro-life groups concerned about the hun­dreds of thousands of unborn Black children killed by abortion each year—requested a permit to gather and paint their own mural stating ‘Black Pre-Born Lives Matter,’ that the District rediscovered its Deface­ment Ordinance … It is not enough that the government enact neutral laws; it must also enforce them in a viewpoint-neutral way … While ‘legitimate’ distinguishing factors may result in differential enforcement, it is irrational for government to impose greater punishment on speakers who seek to comply with notice and permitting requirements and less on speakers who flaunt those requirements. Similarly, it would be illegitimate to subject small, peaceful demonstrations to more stringent enforcement than large-scale protests complete with the permanent defacement of public and private property.” 

Given the way that D.C. law enforcement ignored the conduct of Black Lives Matter protestors compared to those supporting the BLACK PREBORN LIVES MATTER message, “(t)his is evidence of ‘a policy or practice of enforcing the Defacement Ordinance against speech it disagrees with and not enforcing against speech it prefers,’” said ADF on behalf of SFLA and FDF.  

In an opinion piece at Newsweek, Hawkins along with Toni McFaddenformerlyMinority Outreach and Healthy Relationships Director with Students for Life of America,addressed the issues at stake.  

They observe: “The issue here is constitutional fairness. Actors, artists, politicians and CEOs have the liberty under the First Amendment to voice support for abortion or omit preborn children from their activism. But governmental entities engage in unconstitutional overreach when they seek to bar pro-life citizens from expressing the position that all Black lives matter, that abortion is violence, and that the Black preborn child deserves protection. 

To read more about the 9 most common violations of student free speechclick here to read Hawkins’ op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. Click to see a VIDEO: Cross Stomping, Attacks, Profanity, and Intimidation Common Nationwide as Pro-Life Students Speak up for the Preborn and their Mothers.   

For interviews, contact Kristi Hamrick at [email protected] or  [email protected] 

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Students for Life Action (SFLAction), a 501c4, along with its 501c3 sister organization, Students for Life of America (SFLA), make up the nation’s largest pro-life youth organization and a political and policy operation engaging people of all ages. Together they work to end abortion — the human rights issue of our day — and provide political, legal, and community support for women and their children, born and preborn. Headquartered in Fredericksburg, VA, SFLA has more than 1,250 groups on middle, high school, college, university, medical, and law school campuses in all 50 states. SFLA creates strategy, policy, and programming to connect those most targeted for abortion with people ready to help and builds a framework for political engagement on their behalf. SFLA and SFLAction have more conversations with those most targeted by the abortion industry than any other pro-life outreach in the world, reaching more than 2 million people across social media platforms each week and engaging in approximately 100,000 digital conversations per month. Over more than 15 years, President Kristan Hawkins has grown SFLAction/SFLA into an $18 million organization preparing for a Post-Roe America. 

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