Ever since the Republicans inserted a Supreme Court pick in blocking then President Brack Obama’s nomination of the supremely qualified and bi-partisan Merrick Garland, millions of Americans have been wondering what will happen to their First Amendment and reproductive freedom rights now that President Donald Trump’s anti-abortion selection of Neil Gorsuch is sitting on the high court.
Well, the issue of abortion is about to get a whole lot messier.
The Supreme Court is preparing to hear arguments in the case of National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra, a case that debates whether the disclosures required by the California Reproductive FACT Act violate the protections set forth in the free speech clause of the First Amendment, applicable to the states through the 14th Amendment. While most abortion cases are fairly cut and dry, this one is so murky that it may require a NASA telescope.
Here’s a breakdown of the tricky case, via Think Progress:
“NIFLA involves ‘crisis pregnancy centers,’ anti-abortion groups that often lure women seeking abortions by masquerading as reproductive health clinics when their true goal is to encourage those women to carry their pregnancy to term. As the California legislature explained in a law intended to keep these centers from deceiving pregnant people, ‘CPCs “pose as full-service women’s health clinics, but aim to discourage and prevent women from seeking abortions” in order to fulfill their goal of ‘interfer[ing] with women’s ability to be fully informed and exercise their reproductive rights.'”
Despite the fact that ultra-conservative Vice President Pence has a major voice on nearly all policy matters, the Trump Administration has been surprisingly sensible on this issue. The Justice Department’s legal brief, for instance, points to Zauderer v. Office of Disciplinary Counsel, a case involving mandatory disclosures by attorneys who advertise their services to the public.
The point of contention is something called compelled speech — a form of speech that is presumably unconstitutional, according to Thomas Glessner, founder, and president of the National Institute of Family & Life Advocates (NIFLA):
“Can the government impose and compel a faith-based ministry to proclaim a message that they are fundamentally opposed to with the risk of being fined or shut down?”
With a conservative majority in the Supreme Court, abortion providers and lawyers are anticipating the fight of their life. But this case isn’t as cut and dry as opponents on the issue of abortion would like.
Featured image via WhiteHouse.gov.