Baltimore County, Maryland — June 25, 2021. Baltimore County officials responded favorably towards Patrick Hanley, an individual engaging in Pro-Life ministry, after receiving a letter from the Center for Religious Expression (CRE) challenging an unconstitutional code restricting Hanley’s right to share religious messages with women considering abortion.
On April 10, Hanley and friends visited Double Rock Park in order to share a religious-based message about abortion and alternatives to women visiting the Whole Women’s Health of Baltimore clinic. The park is the nearest public space to the clinic and from there, Hanley and friends planned to use signs, engage in conversation, and hand out literature to willing recipients, but were stopped by Baltimore County police shortly after arrival. The police informed Hanley that he and his friends could not continue without a permit, curbing their speech.
After the incident, Hanley reviewed the park regulation referenced by Baltimore County police and noted the language of the regulation referred to advertisement, not his type of speech. Hanley also reached out to officials in both the parks and recreation department and police department in order to obtain the required permit but was denied. Left with no other option, Hanley contacted CRE seeking aid and CRE wrote a letter to Baltimore officials on his behalf, pointing out the constitutional concerns.
Rather than face the prospect of litigation, Baltimore County officials responded favorably towards Hanley, recognizing his right as well as the rights of others to share their religious messages thus securing their First Amendment freedoms.
“Baltimore County cannot hamper free speech because of it disagrees with the content,” said CRE Chief Counsel Nate Kellum. “It is encouraging that Baltimore County has corrected their error so Hanley and others can continue to exercise their fundamental rights.”
Center for Religious Expression is a servant-oriented, non-profit 501(c)(3) Christian legal organization dedicated to the glory of God and the religious freedom of His people. For more information, visit http://www.crelaw.org.