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Published On: Wed, Mar 4th, 2015

Free speech confirmed in pro-life case over sign holding

The Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department (the “Department”) has confirmed pro-lifers’ First Amendment right to hold signs, including along the State’s Highways, in response to Thomas More Society’s letter challenging the Department’s censorship of Fayetteville 40 Days for Life participants’ pro-life signs.

“The Department’s letter officially confirms what we already knew to be true: the First Amendment applies even next to a State Highway,” said Corrina Konczal, Thomas More Society Associate Counsel.  “This amicable resolution ensures that the 40 Days for Life participants are able to hold signs informing passing drivers of their public stand for life without the fear of unjust criminal punishment.”

Participants in the "March for life" walk along Concord Avenue in Knoxville, Tennessee,  photo Michael Stansberry via wikimedia commons

Participants in the “March for life” walk along Concord Avenue in Knoxville, Tennessee, photo Michael Stansberry via wikimedia commons

During the pro-lifers’ eighth peaceful prayer vigil outside the Fayetteville Planned Parenthood abortion facility along Highway 265, a Department employee told the pro-life volunteers that they could not display any signs—not even hand-held signs—during their vigil. The official threatened each participant with a fine between $25-$100 if they continued to hold any signs.

Thomas More Society’s letter, sent last week, challenged the censorship of the pro-lifers’ signs as a clear violation of the First Amendment.  Fortunately, the Department’s prompt response confirms the pro-lifers’ right to hold signs “on a matter of public importance” during their vigil.

“Since last week, we have not been able to use signs informing people of why we are praying in front of the abortion clinic—a key part of 40 Days for Life,” said Sheena Archambault, 40 Days for Life Fayetteville coordinator. “Thank you to Thomas More Society for working with the Department to protect our rights.”

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  1. Media Coverage of Fayetteville 40 Days for Life, Highway Department, and First Amendment Rights | Pro-Life Organizer says:

    […] http://www.theglobaldispatch.com/free-speech-confirmed-in-pro-life-case-over-sign-holding-51243/ […]

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