Justices also upheld President Trump's "travel ban"
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In what is being hailed as a victory for pro-life and free speech advocates, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that a California law requiring pro-life advocates to inform women of the availability of abortion services was most likely a violation of constitutional rights to free speech..
In the 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court reversed a lower court decision that upheld a California law requiring crisis pregnancy centers to tell patients about the availability of state-funded family planning services, including abortion-related services.
In National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Xavier Becerra, opponents of the 2015 law had maintained that the law violated their First Amendment rights by compelling citizens to speak on behalf of a government program that violated their personal beliefs.
Justice Clarence Thomas, writing for the majority, said that the law “targets speakers, not speech, and imposes an unduly burdensome disclosure requirement that will chill their protected speech.”
Penny Nance, CEO and President of Concerned Women hailed the decision as a protection of free speech.
“We applaud the US Supreme Court for sending a clear statement today that pro-life Americans cannot be discriminated against and targeted by government,” said Nance, according to an NPR report.
“To be clear, this case was not about abortion. Malicious abortion politics definitely were the motivation behind it, but the case centered on the inappropriate mandate of the state compelling pro-life clinics to promote abortion in violation of their consciences. The case was about forced speech,” she said.
The Supreme Court, in another 5-4 ruling, also upheld President Trump’s executive order, known as a “travel ban” which restricted entry from seven countries: Iran, North Korea, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Venezuela.
Writing for the majority, Chief Justice Roberts said that the president had the authority to restrict travel which was not affected by incendiary comments Trump made during the presidential campaign.
“Plaintiffs argue that this President’s words strike at fundamental standards of respect and tolerance, in violation of our constitutional tradition,” Roberts wrote. “But the issue before us is not whether to denounce the statements. It is instead the significance of those statements in reviewing a Presidential directive, neutral on its face, addressing a matter within the core of executive responsibility. In doing so, we must consider not only the statements of a particular President, but also the authority of the Presidency itself,” wrote Roberts.