Court to consider whether Pittsburgh can enforce censorship zones

ADF attorneys available for media interviews following hearing Wednesday
Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Attorney sound bites:  Elissa Graves  |  Matt Bowman

WHO: ADF Litigation Counsel Elissa Graves, ADF Senior Legal Counsel Matt Bowman
WHAT: Available for media interviews following hearing in Bruni v. City of Pittsburgh
WHEN: Wednesday, Dec. 3, immediately after hearing, which begins at 10 a.m. EST
WHERE: U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, 6th Floor, Courtroom 6B, Room 6220, 700 Grant St., Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH – Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys will be available for media interviews following a hearing Wednesday in federal court in an ADF lawsuit which seeks to block a Pittsburgh ordinance that creates hundreds of censorship zones that ban leafleting and other free speech throughout the city. The zones block speech around the facilities of abortionists, eye doctors, dentists, and any “therapeutic,” “healing,” or “health-building” treatment services.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously struck down a similar law in McCullen v. Coakley, a case ADF attorneys and allied attorneys filed in 2008. ADF attorneys successfully challenged additional laws in Madison, Wis., and New Hampshire following the Supreme Court’s ruling.

“Americans, including those who are pro-life, have the freedom to speak with whomever they please on public sidewalks,” said ADF Litigation Counsel Elissa Graves, who will argue before the court Wednesday. “As the Supreme Court recently noted, this freedom has been a foundational element in American life since the nation began. Because of this, we are asking the court to prohibit enforcement of Pittsburgh’s unconstitutional censorship zones while this case moves forward.”

“The government cannot muzzle speech just because it doesn’t reflect the views of those who promote abortion,” added ADF Senior Legal Counsel Matt Bowman. “Pittsburgh’s zones are clearly unconstitutional, especially in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision affirming the long-recognized fact that public streets and sidewalks are places where free speech is highly protected.”

ADF attorneys represent pro-life individuals who are challenging the ordinance. Mayor Bill Peduto is enforcing the law, which he voted for as a city councilman in 2005.

Under the ordinance, no one may “knowingly congregate, patrol, picket or demonstrate in a zone extending 15 feet from any entrance to the hospital or health care facility.” Health care facilities broadly and vaguely include any “establishment providing therapeutic, preventative, corrective, healing and health-building treatment services on an out-patient basis by physicians, dentists and other practitioners.”

Lawrence G. Paladin, one of nearly 2,500 private attorneys allied with Alliance Defending Freedom, is local counsel in the lawsuit, Bruni v. City of Pittsburgh, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania.
 
  • Pronunciation guide: Bowman (BOH’-min), Bruni (BROON’-ee)

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.

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