Nov 13, 2017

SCOTUS will hear challenge to mandatory abortion notices

The Supreme Court took three big First Amendment cases. Photo: J. Scott Applewhite/AP

The Supreme Court this morning agreed to hear three big First Amendment cases, including a challenge to a California law that requires anti-abortion pregnancy counselors to give their patients information about how to obtain an abortion.

The big question: Under Chief Justice John Roberts, the court has upheld very few limits on free speech. These cases will be the first test of whether Justice Neil Gorsuch will change that dynamic.

The details: The court accepted three cases:

  • NIFLA v. Becerra: This suit was filed by a group of crisis pregnancy centers — organizations that counsel women against abortion. California law requires those facilities to post a notice that state-funded services, including abortion and contraception, are available. The pregnancy centers say that form of "compelled speech" violates their First Amendment rights.
  • Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky: Minnesota bans political apparel — wearing a "political badge, political button, or other political insignia" — at polling places. That includes wearing the logos of political advocacy groups. A coalition of Tea Party organizations sued, claiming that these "speech-free zones" are unconstitutional. Nine other states have similar laws on the books.
  • Lozman v. Riviera Beach: The third case granted this morning involves a man who was arrested after refusing to stop speaking at a city council meeting. He says his arrest was retaliation for his criticism of local officials.
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