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California Pays Almost $200,000 to Pro-Life Group

November 7th, 2023

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Regardless of whether you’re pro-life or pro-choice, it is always alarming when a law could put you in jail for expressing your views. 

In the United States, the right to express one’s political or religious views is protected. But how far do these protections really go? Time after time, state and federal governments have sought to limit these rights and even penalize those who have expressed their viewpoints in public. A recent case in California initiated by a pro-life group shows that fighting for free speech rights is always a worthy pursuit. 

California Officials Settle Lawsuit With Pro-Life Group

On September 12, it was reported that California state officials had agreed to hand over a settlement of almost $200,000 to a pro-life group. The settlement included the complete coverage of the group’s legal fees, which they incurred over a two-year legal battle with the state. The lawsuit stemmed from alleged violations of free speech rights, as the state had initially banned the group from peacefully expressing their views on their own property. 

It all started when California Governor Newsom signed SB 742 – a bill that made it illegal to approach anyone for any reason within a certain distance from a vaccination site. As long as that person intended to enter the vaccination site, you could potentially face up to six months in jail, a fine of $1,000, or both for simply approaching them. 

The issue was that the pro-life organization’s headquarters was located directly beside a Planned Parenthood clinic that also offered the HPV vaccine. As a result, this new bill made it illegal for the activists to express their views or offer free services to anyone walking past – even though they were operating on their own property (specifically, the sidewalk in front of their building). 

Obviously, the bill did not take into account situations like this. But the law was the law, and the pro-life group was left with little choice but to file a lawsuit against the government. It seemed quite clear from the very beginning that this would result in a victory, as the right to free speech was violated. What made this case even more notable was the fact that they were effectively banned from exercising their right to free speech while on their own property. 

A Victory for Free Speech

In addition to providing a settlement that covered the group’s legal fees, the state agreed to respect their freedom of speech in the future. They will not enforce the “discriminatory aspects” of the bill in relation to the group. This also sets a precedent, meaning that the bill cannot limit freedoms of expression for virtually any speaker – not just those within the pro-life group. 

Speaking about the victory, representatives from the group stated:

“This is a victory not only for the pro-life movement in California, but for the First Amendment rights of all Californians. SB 742 is a clear violation of constitutionally protected free speech. The government has no authority to determine where free speech, a God-given right, begins and ends.”

Regardless of your religious views, it is always somewhat alarming when a law would theoretically put you in jail for expressing those views. 

What Should You Do if Your Right to Exercise Your Religious Free Speech Has Been Violated?

Fortunately, many organizations can help you if your right to exercise your religious free speech has been violated. While we cannot provide legal assistance for you, the Universal Life Church Case Law has been documenting the fight for First Amendment rights and religious freedoms for years. We focus on documenting the most noteworthy of these cases in an objective manner that can be easily understood by readers.

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