Supporters of free speech should pay attention to three cases before the Supreme Court, lawyers said at a recent Heritage Foundation event.
Provisions of local, state, and even federal law threaten to impose politically correct and leftist views on Americans, infringing on their First Amendment rights, the speakers said.
The Heritage event featured Jacob Huebert, director of litigation at Liberty Justice Center; Todd Gaziano, executive director of the D.C. Center of Pacific Legal Foundation; and Jordan Lorence, senior counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom.
Although the conservative side has lost so far at the appellate or circuit level, Lorence said, he sees the Supreme Court’s decision to hear the cases as a hopeful sign for free speech.
The speakers’ full remarks may be seen on a Heritage video.
1. Mandatory union dues (Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 31).
Public employees who have opted out of union membership are being forced to pay fees to unions anyway.
The Illinois Public Labor Relations Act allows unions to collect “fair share” or “agency shop” fees from non-member employees, Pacific Legal Foundation notes. Two public employees sued, arguing the law unconstitutionally infringes on their First Amendment right to free speech by putting their money toward political organizations and activities they don’t agree with.
“If a government worker is forced to give any money at all to a public sector union … , then that worker is being forced to pay for someone else’s political advocacy,” Huebert said. “That is something that the First Amendment virtually never allows.”
The Supreme Court is slated to hear the case Monday.
2. Free speech at the polls (Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky).
A Minnesota law prohibits voters from wearing “political” apparel at polling places. According to Pacific Legal Foundation’s Gaziano, the ban includes T-shirts, buttons, or other items that take a stance on a political issue.
If an individual were to walk into a polling place wearing an NRA hat, he or she could be asked to remove it or face possible prosecution or a $5,000 penalty, Gaziano said.
The problem with the Minnesota law, he suggested, is that it considers any type of political messaging to be a threat. Almost any message, including wearing a Minnesota Vikings hoodie, can be considered political, he said.
The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Wednesday in the case.
3. Mandatory abortion promotion (National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra).
Pro-life pregnancy centers are pushing back on California’s requirement that they advertise the availability of abortion.
The state’s Reproductive FACT Act requires the promotion of free or low-cost abortion services.
The law also mandates multilingual advertising of abortion providers by pro-life organizations based on a given area’s demographics.
Pro-life pregnancy organizations are the only ones scrutinized, Lorence said, noting that regular OB-GYN clinics are not. Liberal political institutions in California want to promote abortion to all citizens, no matter the clinic they enter, he said.
Other courts have invalidated or mostly invalidated similar laws in Austin, Texas; in Maryland’s Baltimore and Montgomery County; and New York City, according to Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian legal aid organization.
The Supreme Court has set oral arguments for March 20.