Monday, March 2, 2015

First Amendment Rights Upheld for Pro-Lifers in Fayetteville, AR

English: Pro-lifers from the 2004 March for Life.
 Pro-lifers. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Highway Department responds to Thomas More Society letter, confirming
40 Days for Life participants’ free speech rights

(March 2, 2015 – Fayetteville, AR) – Today the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department (the “Department”) has confirmed pro-lifers’ First Amendment right to hold signs, including along the State’s Highways, in response to Thomas More Society’s letter challenging the Department’s censorship of Fayetteville 40 Days for Life participants’ pro-life signs.

“The Department’s letter officially confirms what we already knew to be true: the First Amendment applies even next to a State Highway,” said Corrina Konczal, Thomas More Society Associate Counsel.  “This amicable resolution ensures that the 40 Days for Life participants are able to hold signs informing passing drivers of their public stand for life without the fear of unjust criminal punishment.”

During the pro-lifers’ eighth peaceful prayer vigil outside the Fayetteville Planned Parenthood abortion facility along Highway 265, a Department employee told the pro-life volunteers that they could not display any signs—not even hand-held signs—during their vigil. The official threatened each participant with a fine between $25-$100 if they continued to hold any signs.

Thomas More Society’s letter, sent last week, challenged the censorship of the pro-lifers’ signs as a clear violation of the First Amendment.  Fortunately, the Department’s prompt response confirms the pro-lifers’ right to hold signs “on a matter of public importance” during their vigil.

“Since last week, we have not been able to use signs informing people of why we are praying in front of the abortion clinic—a key part of 40 Days for Life,” said Sheena Archambault, 40 Days for Life Fayetteville coordinator. “Thank you to Thomas More Society for working with the Department to protect our rights.”

Pronunciation guide:
Archambault: “Ar-sham-bo”
Konczal: “CON-zul”

About the Thomas More Society
The Thomas More Society is a not-for-profit, national public interest law firm dedicated to restoring respect in law for life, family, and religious liberty. Based in Chicago, the Thomas More Society defends and fosters support for these causes by providing high quality pro bono legal services from local trial courts all the way to the United States Supreme Court.