Tempe, Arizona — November 7, 2018. The Center for Religious Expression (CRE) filed a lawsuit today, asking the federal court for the district of Arizona to restore the right of CRE client Sherry Pierce to share her compassionate message of life on public sidewalks near an abortion clinic in Tempe, Arizona.
Pierce wants to reach fellow women considering an abortion with a message of hope and life through Jesus Christ and offer real alternatives. Pierce operates a ministry that raises funds to support women – providing diapers, baby clothes, financial aid with rent, and more – so that money will not be an obstacle for women to keep their baby. Pierce knows that abortion clinics are all to often where women turn, and that by sharing her message near these places, she can make a real difference in the lives of mother and baby.
The Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Tempe recently moved to a strip mall, set back from a noisy seven-lane highway by several hundred feet. To be heard by women from that distance while speaking in a compassionate tone and reasonable volume, Pierce needs the aid of an amplifier or cheer cone. But the City of Tempe has effectively banned her from doing so under threat of criminal arrest or citation. According to Tempe, whenever someone complains about someone’s speech, it becomes illegal – even if the speaker is in compliance Tempe’s noise ordinance. Unsurprisingly, Planned Parenthood has been quick to complain about Pierce’s speech.
CRE sent a letter to Tempe on Pierce’s behalf, asking that they cease their unconstitutional policy of shutting down speech based on subjective complaints, but Tempe refused, insisting it would continue. With no other option, Pierce filed suit.
“Speech cannot be shut down because someone complains about it,” said CRE Chief Counsel Nate Kellum. “We have the right to speak up on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves.”