Memphis, Tennessee — November 20, 2017. The Center for Religious Expression (CRE) filed a federal lawsuit today against Memphis officials, challenging an unconstitutional policy that banishes Christian counselling about abortion alternatives from a publically-accessible street in front of an abortion clinic.
On May 1, 2017, John Brindley went to the new Planned Parenthood clinic on Virginia Run Cove in Memphis to offer literature and counsel regarding abortion alternatives. Brindley stood on the side of the road, out of the way of traffic, and peacefully shared his views.
Disliking Brindley’s expression, a representative of Planned Parenthood soon demanded Brindley leave the cove. When Brindley pointed out his right to speak on a public street, the representative contacted the police. When police arrived, they backed up Planned Parenthood, claiming the street was Planned Parenthood’s private property and warning Brindley to leave or face criminal arrest. Brindley’s counselling was exiled from the cove.
Brindley contacted CRE, which sent a letter on his behalf in June, explaining that the city has no right to ban speech on a street that operates as a public way requesting assurance that Memphis allow Brindley to return. But, to date, no official responded to Brindley’s plea. Left with no other recourse, Brindley filed suit.
“The First Amendment covers Mr. Brindley’s speech.” said CRE Chief Counsel Nate Kellum. “Wherever the public has a right to walk, they should have a right to talk.”