CA to Pay Nearly $200,000 in Settlement with Pro-Life Group in Free Speech Suit

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State officials in California are settling a lawsuit from Right to Life of Central California and agreeing to honor the group’s free speech rights and pay nearly $200,000 in attorney fees.

The lawsuit, brought by the nonprofit religious rights law firm Alliance Defending Freedom, was filed in October 2021 after Gov. Gavin Newsom of California approved SB-742 into law, CBN News reports. The bill made it illegal to approach a person within 30 feet of “a public way or on a sidewalk area” and “within 100 feet of the entrance or exit of a vaccination site and is seeking to enter or exit a vaccination site.”

Violation of the law was “punishable by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding six months, or by both that fine and imprisonment.”

But ADF’s lawsuit said the law restricted Right to Life’s work to peaceably offer services to women in need on the public sidewalk and street outside of its own building because the Right to Life building stands next to a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic where the HPV vaccine is administered.

“Women facing unplanned pregnancies deserve to have full support and resources available to them when they choose life for their unborn children, yet the state of California unconstitutionally tried to silence the voices of those advocating on their behalf,” ADF Senior Counsel Denise Harle said.

According to details of the settlement, California officials will not enforce the discriminatory parts of the law against Right to Life or other speakers.

“This is a significant victory not only for our client, Right to Life, but for every other speaker in California,” said ADF Senior Counsel Denise Harle. “The First Amendment protects every Californian, regardless of their viewpoint. Now Right to Life’s staff and volunteers can continue their critical mission of serving vulnerable women in the central California region with their free, life-giving services.”

The California Family Council also praised the settlement, saying, “This is a victory not only for the pro-life movement in California but for the First Amendment rights of all Californians. SB 742 is a clear violation of constitutionally protected free speech. The government has no authority to determine where free speech, a God-given right, begins and ends.”

Photo courtesy: Rawpixel/Unsplash 

Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and She blogs at The Migraine Runner.

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