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Published On: Thu, Nov 5th, 2015

Pittsburgh’s censorship battle heats up as ADF speaks out against free speech violations

A Pittsburgh censorship zone ordinance allows the creation of hundreds of censorship zones throughout the city that ban leafleting and other free speech around the facilities of abortionists, eye doctors, dentists, and any “therapeutic,” “healing,” or “health-building” treatment services.

Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Legal Counsel Matt Bowman spoke before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit against a Pittsburgh censorship zone ordinance. In March, ADF attorneys appealed a district court decision that upheld the ordinance.

photo Jennifer Moo via Flickr

photo Jennifer Moo via Flickr

In 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously struck down a similar law in McCullen v. Coakley, a case ADF attorneys and allied attorneys filed in 2008. ADF attorneys successfully challenged additional laws in Madison, Wis., and New Hampshire following the Supreme Court’s ruling.

“The government cannot muzzle speech just because it doesn’t reflect the views of abortionists or pro-abortion politicians and bureaucrats,” said Bowman. “The Supreme Court made that clear when it affirmed the long-recognized fact that public streets and sidewalks are places where free speech is highly protected. These kinds of censorship zones are clearly unconstitutional, and the city should rescind this bad law.”

ADF attorneys filed the lawsuit, Bruni v. City of Pittsburgh, on behalf of pro-life individuals who can’t speak or engage in sidewalk counseling within the zones. Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto is enforcing the law, which he voted for as a city councilman in 2005.

Under the ordinance, no one may “knowingly congregate, patrol, picket or demonstrate in a zone extending 15 feet from any entrance to the hospital or health care facility” that the city designates. Health care facilities broadly and vaguely include any “establishment providing therapeutic, preventative, corrective, healing and health-building treatment services on an out-patient basis by physicians, dentists and other practitioners.”

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

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