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The First Amendment in Crisis

Family Policy Matters / NC Family Policy
The Truth Network Radio
March 7, 2022 9:52 am

The First Amendment in Crisis

Family Policy Matters / NC Family Policy

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March 7, 2022 9:52 am

This week on Family Policy Matters, host Traci DeVette Griggs welcomes ADF attorney Kevin Theriot to discuss the case of Love Life ministries, a NC pro-life nonprofit whose members were arrested in Greensboro—in violation of their First Amendment rights—for praying outside an abortion clinic.

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Family policy matters and engaging and informative weekly radio show and podcast produced by the North Carolina family policy Council hi this is John Ralston, presidency, family, and were grateful to have you with us for this week's program is our prayer that you will be informed, encouraged and inspired by what you hear on family policy matters and that you will fold better equipped to be a voice of persuasion for family values in your community, state and nation, and now here's our house to family policy matters.

Tracy David Griggs, thanks for joining us this week for family policy matters. Remember back to last spring when we first discussed a lawsuit out of Greensboro involving the arrest of members of the pro-life organization.

Love life who are peacefully praying outside an abortion clinic but were charged with violating the county's pandemic restrictions will can Ontario ADF senior counsel and member of ADF's center for life is here to talk about the latest developments in that case, Kevin Terrio. Welcome to family policy matters.

Huge, great beer, so if you could start by reminding us exactly what happened and what led to these arrests come to like a lot of counties had a policy during Hobart that was designed to try to help with the public health and safety. Unfortunately, instead it ended up being the government taking advantage of a crisis to silence P2 doesn't like so they put in these restrictions and the restrictions were not across-the-board, you're probably aware that this particular case, our clients were in front of the abortion facility praying on the sidewalk on a public sidewalk.

They were told that they could be there eventually some of them were arrested for being out on the sidewalk and praying even though they were technically compliance with most of the ordinance or all of the ordinance really. But while they were being arrested and police were interacting with them walking down the sidewalk on the way to grocery store and the police said let's find the walk on the sidewalk. Go to grocery store, but you can't pray course, people understand that that doesn't seem right. The same danger that's involved with praying in on the sidewalk for spreading Tobit applies to someone walking to the grocery store so they were arrested they went to some of them actually spent some time in jail was hours not days, but nevertheless they did and of course eventually those charges were dropped and the question really became.

Did the county violate their civil rights when they arrested him for engaging in religious free speech. This case really is pretty interesting because it's not just about abortion laws.

It's not just about freedom of speech but it's also about government emergency powers so we balance all of interesting questions and I think one of the things that we have to remember is the government I can't take advantage of a crisis to violate speech like at one point, the city attorney said well it doesn't really apply at a time of crisis which is which is ridiculous. And of course we all saw that the government chose to enforce things in ways against speech that he liked it much more lax way than it did enforce the covert regulations are not code regulations that awaits me to didn't like princes. There was a Supreme Court case at the time against Gov. Newsom in California where they would allow people to meet in their homes, but only in a very limited amount, but they would allow people to go to the store and in much greater numbers, and the Supreme Court should look the amount of people congregating in the store is the same as the amount of people congregating in a house and so you can't treat those differently just because you don't you think one is more important than the other and I think that's what we have to remember is that the government is still bound by the First Amendment's protection of freedom of speech and freedom of religion, even in time of crisis and that the treat those similarly and sometimes you have to treat religious free speech is better, and I think that's important to remember it was important lesson for government officials to learn and I think in some ways they still haven't learned this ultimately dropped the charges against those people who are praying why love life go forward with lawsuits even though they had been trapped.

We filed a lawsuit before the charges were dropped by think of filing the lawsuit help facilitate the charges be dropped. And of course when we filed the lawsuit.

The emergency order was still in place.

So the question was, would dropping the charges fix the damage to our clients reputations and ensure that the city and the county had learned their lesson or did they need an order from a court reminding them that constitutional rights are protected even time and end time of crisis and eventually the county course the county didn't file any charges against them, but the county enacted the ordinance that was used to restrict their rights in the County agreed that we are going to do this again will have exceptions in there for free speech activity like your clients were engaging in, and so we agreed to settle the case with the County and the announcement of that settlement just happened in the last couple weeks, so in the future. The county will have a exception, just like the state of North Carolina's restriction. Covert restrictions have exceptions for free speech and freedom of religion. It's unique about that settlement that you would like to discuss.

It was unique in the sense that the governmental entity conceded that the past. They didn't have the proper protections in place for folks like global impact ministries and love life who are out there on the streets protecting babies and helping mom's that the unexpected pregnancies and and in the future.

They agreed to do that and a lot of times, government officials won't say look at will will pay you some money and if you go away, but were not changing our behavior in the future, so they should be commended for that and of course a page of attorney's fees, some sure that we understand because there was a lawsuit that was settled and then there was an ongoing or pending lawsuit against the city of Greensboro. Tell us again what the difference is between us. The county enacted the ordinance emergency ordinance that restricted speech and restricted activities because of code. 19 but the city of Greensboro and its police department is who enforced it and of course our clients were technically complying with the ordinance in the way that the city enforced.

It was discriminatory in and of itself and for instance there were just four people from love life down there near the abortion facility praying and they initially wrote of a ticket that said that they exceeded the 10% limit, but they had fewer than 10 people and they were 6 feet apart and they were using the required hand sanitizer and so, so they actually changed the ticket because they realize oh yeah you didn't buy like another words they were looking for a way to go after them and so when we filed a lawsuit we should both accounting at both the city of Greensboro could enforce the ordinance and of course the County agreed that it was going to make sure that this didn't happen in the future, but Greensboro hasn't done and so instead they actually have filed another motion with the court asking the court to throw the case out because look over 19 business ordinances in effect anymore. Code 19 Sonata not a problem anymore, but they're ignoring the fact that our clients reputations were damaged and they were damaged because they had to spend some time in jail and of course more and most importantly, the, the loss some opportunities to speak to men and women in time of crisis, who had unexpected pregnancies because they weren't allowed to be out there and that opportunity never can be regained, but we can at least get an agreement from the city that they won't do this kind of activity and future. What's your sense of how this is going to proceed. There's no way to predict with any level of certainty what it what a judge is going to do, but we're cautiously optimistic that the judge is going to allow this case to go forward. He's going to deny their this is her second motion to dismiss is going to deny their second motion motion to dismiss yardage in either first one in these going to allow the case to go forward, because our clients were clearly harmed by the city's enforcement of this ordinance love life folks know to do this. They know about their rights planning. I think a lot of people probably would've gone to come. The place I guess we have to go they be mad about that. They know with a savvy enough to know what the rights were in and to stand strong and then to call you guys will happen well. They have charge you everywhere is an attorney that helps them frequently and does a lot of good work for them so he was there and was able to intercede for them. Course he was one of the guys we got arrested two. It was there to act as their attorney and so he's is what rights were violated to so he help them understand right away that this doesn't this is right they can't treat you unfairly, and of course you to contact us because we've felt global impact ministries and love life in the past and of course we at the time ADF was doing quite a bit of litigation on behalf of religious speakers who were being discriminated against with Lisa code 19 rules with multiple cases in multiple states and so that's one of the reasons that they knew that they can count on us to come and help them so set up perfectly for a plug for your organization. I mean, it really is helpful is in it for us as Christians and even write US citizens to watch what you guys are doing because you're doing some important stuff and then we will be prepared currently. If we are in a situation like this that's exactly right. I encourage always encourage people to educate themselves so that they know with the issues are and then they need to take action they needed to do to be motivated to do something. Don't let the government intimidate you into being silent and sometimes you actually have to litigate the first step is making sure you understand what's going on as you alluded to in a great way to do that is go to ADF legal.org and just keep track of what were posting on the website. What kind of cases are being filed. The covert case is largely gone way over there still and until the government officials will agree that they're knocking to do this in the future. Those kids on this case is going to continue to be litigated like like the case against the city of Greensboro which is still ongoing but new issues come up all the time and and I think people if they're smart they'll be go make sure that they understand what the government is doing across the country because that could be coming to a town near you any day what some of these governments do to better educate themselves before they put these kind of restrictions in place and cause these kind of problems, what one of the things that governments of the past have done what we've had lawsuits where they violate enforcement rights as they've agreed to have the police department trained and ADF can help train them. So that's one thing they can do so they can educate themselves and of course they can make sure that their policies protect free speech as I alluded to earlier, the state of North Carolina covert regulations and restrictions on activity, had exceptions for freedom of speech and folks at first since people in churches and and people out in front of abortion facilities that are working to protect them and provide services to them so I think we can educate themselves and make sure that their policies and practice are in compliance with the law and ADF is willing to help them do that. So are certain states hotspots for these problems. Do you see more in some states than others. The interesting question. I had thought about that in a while. Sometimes you do, you know, but oftentimes it's really more an issue of a particular city instead of a state may North Carolina in general works to protect freedom of speech but that you have some isolated cities in this particular case the city of Greensboro did that ignored speech. There are some states that seem to be frequent bad actors and restricting speech. California is one of those weak we've sued them anytime soon and his men affect had a Supreme Court case in the last couple years were we were able to successfully sue them for requiring a people to speak in a way that they didn't want to speak and so California is one of those places.

But you know what they pop up all over the country, whether he be in the South for the north or the west, or just about out of time for this week before we go.

Kevin Terrio went to our listeners go to learn more about this case and follow your good work there at 80th, you can go to our website@80legal.org is a great way to find out not only what were working on. But how to get connected and to receive updates on a regular basis. If you would like to ADF senior counsel Kevin Terrio. Thank you so much for joining us today on family policy matters.

You can listing the family policy matters. We hope you enjoyed the program and plenitude in again next week to listen to the show online and to learn more about NC families work to inform, encourage and inspire families across Carolina go to our website@ncfamily.org that's NC family.org. Thanks again for listening and may God bless you and your family


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