Cincinnati, Ohio — September 11, 2018. Today, the Center for Religious Expression (CRE) filed an appellate brief with the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, asking the court to rescue free speech rights on a street in front of an abortion clinic.
John Brindley wants to share the truth about abortion with women considering about abortion, and offer them real alternatives they and their babies can live with. So on May 1, 2017, he went to the side of a road in front of a newly-opened Planned Parenthood in Memphis, TN to offer literature about abortion to women as they approached the clinic and encourage them to discuss alternatives. But, Memphis police soon arrived, claiming the street that appeared public was actually private and that Brindley must leave because Planned Parenthood did not want him there. Facing arrest, Brindley was forced to leave.
CRE sent a letter to Memphis on Brindley’s behalf, pointing out case law demonstrating that it cannot banish free speech from a street that looks and functions as a public way and asking Memphis to respect Brindley’s rights in the future. But Memphis ignored his plea. Left with no other option, Brindley filed a lawsuit in federal district court, and requested the court put an end to Memphis’ policy. But the district court held, contrary to binding precedent, the street’s objective appearance and function, and the fact that it is legally dedicated to public use, the street is closed to free speech. Brindley appealed to right this legal wrong.
“Courts considering appropriate places for free speech have long been concerned with protecting the reasonable expectations of the public,” said CRE Chief Counsel Nate Kellum. “If a street objectively looks and functions as a public street, we should have the right to speak there.”