by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
George Leef’s latest Forbes column focuses on a court case involving a direct threat to First Amendment rights.
The whole point of the First Amendment was to keep government out of crucial aspects of life –religion, speech, the press – that should be left entirely to voluntary action. It is supposed to shield people against governmental mandates and prohibitions. Government cannot keep you from practicing any religion and it cannot make you practice any; it cannot prevent you from speaking your mind and it cannot make you speak if you do not want to. That’s the concept, anyway.
A case that the Court recently heard, National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) v. Becerra, puts that concept in jeopardy. At issue is a California statute that compels pro-life pregnancy centers to advertise the state’s pro-abortion alternative, informing women who come in for help, “California has public programs that provide immediate free or low-cost access to abortion for eligible women. To determine if you qualify, call [phone number].”
California is dominated to pro-abortion politicians who years ago won their battle against those who oppose government support for abortion. This law is intended to further beat down pro-life advocates. The legislative history of the bill makes it clear that its purpose was to impede those who try to discourage women from seeking abortions.