December 11, 2019. Today, the Center for Religious Expression (CRE) filed a lawsuit in the Southern District of Mississippi challenging a City of Jackson ordinance that effectively eliminates every available manner of pro-life expression communicated on public sidewalks and ways near the only abortion clinic in the State of Mississippi.
CRE client Flip Benham wants to share a message of hope and God’s love with women considering abortion, and provide them aid and alternatives to abortion. Being involved in pro-life ministry for decades, Benham has gone across the county to share his message, and has visited the Jackson Women’s Health Organization abortion clinic on numerous occasions. He wants to visit again in 2020.
But recently, the City of Jackson passed an ordinance that suppresses his pro-life ministry. It bans pro-life speakers from being near the entrances where they can offer literature and conversation. It bans individuals from approaching others within 100 feet of the clinic to engage in expression. And, it bans elevated voice or using an amplifier to cover the distance between people that the other two restrictions create. These overlapping restrictions leave Benham with no avenue for conveying his life-affirming message in public areas near the clinic.
CRE’s lawsuit points out the unprecedented and extraordinarily broad nature of Jackson’s all-encompassing restrictions, and seeks to restore the rights of Benham and others to engage in pro-life expression in public forums.
“The U.S. Constitution recognizes public sidewalks, streets, and ways as prototypical places for the communication of ideas,” said CRE Chief Counsel Nate Kellum. “Jackson cannot layer restriction upon restriction to censor pro-life speech.”
Center for Religious Expression is a servant-oriented, non-profit 501(c)(3) Christian legal organization dedicated to the glory of God and the religious freedom of His people. For more information, visit http://www.crelaw.org.