Cardinal Dolan Applauds Free Speech Victory in SCOTUS NIFLA v. Becerra Decision

AP/Patrick Semansky

Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, Chairman of U.S. Bishops’ Pro-Life Committee, issued a statement Tuesday praising the Supreme Court’s decision not to force pro-life pregnancy centers to provide free advertising for the abortion industry.

NIFLA challenged the California Reproductive FACT Act that obliged pro-life pregnancy centers to provide information regarding abortion to patients and the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of NIFLA under the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Cardinal Dolan, the archbishop of New York, called the ruling “an important victory for the free speech rights of pro-life organizations,” and praised the court for affirming that “the First Amendment protects the right of all organizations to choose for themselves not only what to say, but what not to say.”

“This includes allowing pro-life pregnancy care centers to continue providing life-affirming support to both mother and child without being forced by governments to provide free advertising for the violent act of abortion in direct violation of the center’s pro-life convictions,” Dolan added.

The cardinal said that the decision represents “an important development in protecting pro-life pregnancy centers from future efforts to compel speech in violation of their deeply held beliefs.”

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) together with several other Christian and Jewish groups filed a friend-of-the-court brief before the Supreme Court supporting the pro-life pregnancy centers.

The brief stated that the Ninth Circuit court’s finding in favor of California would have “disastrous effects on religious organizations generally.”

Whether in the context of government-compelled “disclosures” like those in the FACT Act, notifications to employees, or even speech codes, “religious institutions are increasingly facing mandates to speak,” the brief noted.

“Worse, these mandates frequently conflict with the institutions’ religious beliefs and thus force them to speak contrary to those beliefs. Affirming the Ninth Circuit’s decision would give a green light to analogous speech mandates in a variety of other settings,” it said.

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