Today the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled, 5-4, in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) v. Becerra, striking down a California state law that forced pro-life pregnancy centers to point the way to abortion.
Explanation: The Court turned back the state of California’s law forcing pro-life pregnancy centers to point the way to abortion. The Court ruled that the government was wrong to compel pro-life groups and individuals to express a message that conflicts with their beliefs.
Supporting the opinion of the court were Justices Thomas, Roberts, Kennedy, Alito and Gorsuch.
Dissenting were Justices Breyer, Ginsburg, Sotomayor and Kagan.
Justice Kennedy’s concurrence reads as follows:
And the history of the Act’s passage and its underinclusive application suggest a real possibility that these individuals were targeted because of their beliefs. The California Legislature included in its official history the congratulatory statement that the Act was part of California’s legacy of “forward thinking.” App. 38–39. But it is not forward thinking to force individuals to “be an instrument for fostering public adherence to an ideological point of view [they] fin[d] unacceptable.” Wooley v. Maynard, 430 U. S. 705, 715 (1977). It is forward thinking to begin by reading the First Amendment as ratified in 1791; to understand the history of authoritarian government as the Founders then knew it; to confirm that history since then shows how relentless authoritarian regimes are in their attempts to stifle free speech; and to carry those lessons onward as we seek to preserve and teach the necessity of freedom of speech for the generations to come. Governments must not be allowed to force persons to express a message contrary to their deepest convictions. Freedom of speech secures freedom of thought and belief. This law imperils those liberties.
Alliance Defending Freedom President, CEO, and General Counsel Michael Farris issued the following statement regarding the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision today against government-compelled speech in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra:
“No one should be forced by the government to express a message that violates their convictions, especially on deeply divisive subjects such as abortion. In this case, the government used its power to force pro-life pregnancy centers to provide free advertising for abortion. The Supreme Court said that the government can’t do that, and that it must respect pro-life beliefs. Tolerance and respect for good-faith differences of opinion are essential in a diverse society like ours. They enable us to peacefully coexist with one another. If we want to have freedom for ourselves, we have to extend it to others.”