It is sometimes amazing how close we really are to madness, madness in this country. A common-sense, practical ruling in favor of the First Amendment squeaked by the U.S. Supreme Court the other day, 5-4. Giving conservatives not only a win in the courts, but more arguments for keeping a Republican in the White House.
(NB., Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement this week. President Trump could do the country much good if he can get another Neil Gorsuch on the bench.)
This particular case involved California, of course, and free speech. California law had required faith-based pregnancy centers preach the Gospel of Abortion, chapter and verse. These centers, designed to help women with pregnancy and follow through after childbirth, were told to display the state's message to women: If you want an abortion, California would be happy to provide it.
It's a message that the sovereign state of California can put on billboards at its own expense. But requiring faith-based pregnancy centers to post it on its doors? Doesn't that contradict the message the pregnancy centers are trying to put out? The Supreme Court thought so.
Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the majority opinion. He said the "government-drafted script" specifically mentions abortion, "the very practice that petitioners are devoted to opposing."
"By requiring petitioners to inform women how they can obtain state-subsidized abortions, at the same time petitioners try to dissuade women from choosing that option . . . plainly alters the content of petitioners' speech," Mr. Justice Thomas wrote.
Justice Kennedy concurred: The centers were "targeted because of their beliefs . . . . Governments must not be allowed to force persons to express a message contrary to their deepest convictions."
Aren't we glad to live in a country where the government can't force us to say something, especially something that we oppose? Isn't that the essence of free speech? Not only are we free to say what we believe, we can't be forced to say something we don't believe.
And that common-sense message still only passed 5-4.
California's attorney general, Xavier Becerra, tried to make the best of things: "When it comes to making their health decisions, all California women--regardless of their economic background or ZIP code--deserve access to critical and non-biased information to make their own informed decisions. Today's court ruling is unfortunate, but our work to ensure that Californians receive accurate information about their health-care options will continue."
Attorney General Becerra will make a good California governor one day. He's already learned how to turn faith-based pregnancy centers into oppressors of poor women.
California women deserve to know their health-care options, sure. So let the state of California put the message on mailers, PSAs and billboards, if taxpayers on the left coast are willing to pay for it. But it cannot force pro-life centers to carry a pro-abortion message into their own offices.
Once upon a time, that was common sense.
Today, it's a 5-4 decision.
Editorial on 06/29/2018
Print Headline: Planned parenthood