Hanover Township, Pennsylvania — November 30, 2016. The Center for Religious Expression (CRE) filed a federal lawsuit today on behalf of Elizabeth Sacks against the Township of Hanover for banning Sacks from sharing messages of hope on public ways near an abortion clinic.
Sacks feels strongly about the issue of abortion and wishes to inform women who are considering abortion about alternatives and her willingness to help them. Sacks also wants to tell women who have already had an abortion about the hope and forgiveness they could find in Christ. To share these messages, Sacks has gone to the Allentown Women’s Center (AWC), a local abortion clinic, and shared her message on a public way through a small personal amplifier, so that she could be heard while still speaking in a loving and conversational tone.
However, on February 4, 2016, while conveying her beliefs at AWC, she was approached by a police officer who, without warning, informed that a Hanover Township ordinance prohibited Sacks from using her amplifier at any volume in public and would subject her to criminal citation. Sacks objected to this unconstitutional application of the ordinance, but the police were not swayed, and insisted on applying the ordinance to her in the future.
Hoping to resolve this conflict, CRE sent a letter on Sacks’ behalf to Hanover Township officials, requesting they cease their unconstitutional policy. But Hanover Township offered no relief, insisting the police were free to enforce the ordinance however they saw fit. With no other option, Sacks filed suit to recover her constitutional rights.
“Like anyone else, Elizabeth has a right to be heard.” said CRE Chief Counsel Nate Kellum. “Hanover Township cannot mute her message by banning her use of reasonable amplification.”