Political Speech

SCOTUS Rules Against California Law In Free Speech Case

Anti-abortion rights demonstrators rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court. (NIFLA) v. Becerra, in Washington, U.S. March 20, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

The Supreme Court sided with anti-abortion crisis centers and ruled that a California law requiring the centers to advertise state-funded services violated the facilities’ right to free speech.

NIFLA v. Becerra concerned a California law that imposes disclosure requirements on pro-life pregnancy clinics. The state regulations requires licensed clinics to notify women and advertise the fact that California offeres free or low-cost abortion services. It also requires unlicensed clinics to disclose that they are unlicensed.

NPR reports that the case “pitted the right to know against the right of free speech.”

Opponents of the law saw it as a form of compelled speech and violated the First Amendment.

The law “targets speakers, not speech, and imposes an unduly burdensome disclosure requirement that will chill their protected speech,” wrote Justice Clarence Thomas for the majority.

The justices rejected the state’s appeal to create and apply a new category of speech called “professional speech,” which they ruled is not an exception to the First Amendment and is protected.

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