Cincinnati, Ohio — July 24, 2019. The Center for Religious Expression (CRE) won an important victory for free speech at the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals today, receiving a ruling that the First Amendment must be honored in an area in front of an abortion clinic that looks and functions like a public street.
Back in May 2017, Memphis police stopped CRE Client John Brindley from peacefully offering hope and alternatives to abortion on a street bordering a Planned Parenthood. Police insisted that although the street looked public, Brindley had to leave under threat of arrest because the street was actually privately-owned and Planned Parenthood did not want him there.
When Memphis refused to give Brindley any relief, CRE filed a lawsuit on Brindley’s behalf and asked the federal district court to put a hold on Memphis’s policy because it continued to infringe Brindley’s rights daily. But the district court ruled against him, treating the street as closed to free speech, despite its appearance and function. Brindley appealed to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, and today, the Court ruled in Brindley’s favor, recognizing that the street should be open to free speech – just like any other street.
“The Sixth Circuit’s decision today reaffirms that the public has a right to talk where they have the right to walk,” said CRE Chief Counsel Nate Kellum. “The public expects to speak freely in areas looking and functioning like a public street.”