Memphis, Tennessee — June 13, 2017. Today, the Center for Religious Expression (CRE) sent a letter to Memphis officials, asking them to cease an unconstitutional policy of exiling a Christian message about abortion from the street in front of an abortion clinic.
John Brindley wants to converse with women who are considering abortion about alternatives and offer information communicating the truth about abortion. On May 1, 2017, he went to a newly-opened Planned Parenthood, and stood on a public way on the side of the road next to the clinic’s driveway entrance, so he could offer literature about abortion to women as they approached the clinic and encourage them to discuss alternatives.
However, Brindley was soon approached by a Planned Parenthood employee, who demanded he leave the area immediately. Brindley pointed out that he wasn’t on the clinic’s property, but a public street, where he had a right to be. The clinic employee then called the police. When the police arrived, Brindley explained his rights, but police claimed the street was private property, and warned Brindley to leave under threat of arrest. Left with no other option, Brindley was forced to abandon his message.
CRE’s letter explains that the government cannot banish speech on a street that functions as a public way. Emphasizing the unconstitutional nature of a ban on speech simply because the clinic doesn’t like it, the letter asks Memphis officials to allow Brindley to resume his speech there in the future.
“So long as streets are streets, citizens have a right to speak there.” said CRE Chief Counsel Nate Kellum. “The government cannot eject free speech from such places because Planned Parenthood disagrees with the pro-life message.”