Raleigh, North Carolina — November 9, 2018. The Center for Religious Expression (CRE) secured victory for free speech on a public way in front of an abortion clinic in Raleigh.
Brandi Kraus organizes Open Arms Ministry, an outreach ministry dedicated to helping women facing crisis pregnancies, offering support and real alternatives to abortion. To reach these women, Kraus goes to the public right-of-way in front of an abortion clinic in downtown Raleigh so she can engage women in compassionate conversations, and hand them literature about abortion and alternatives. But in late September of this year, Raleigh police announced that the public right-of-way in front of the clinic would now be considered a “safe zone” from which Kraus and others espousing like views would be banned. This “safe zone” forced Kraus across the street from the clinic, where she had no opportunity to share her message with women considering abortion.
CRE sent a letter to Raleigh on behalf of Kraus, pointing out that Raleigh’s safe zone policy violated the First Amendment, selectively banning speech about abortion and suppressing Kraus’ life-affirming message. Fortunately, in response to CRE’s letter, Raleigh relented, eliminating the safe zone and enabling Kraus to return to peacefully sharing her message.
“The public should have the right to talk wherever they have the right to walk,” said CRE Chief Counsel Nate Kellum. “Public ways are inherently safe zones for speech. Thankfully, Raleigh has ended its practice of treating them as areas that safe from speech.”
Kellum went on to caution against dropping one’s guard. “Doubtless, the abortion clinic won’t be happy that pro-life counselors are returning to the right-of-way,” said Kellum. “We hope Raleigh refrains from hatching up a new scheme to shut down speakers like Kraus.”