Trashing the First Amendment

On April 2, the New York City Council passed Intro. 826-A, a bill that trashes the natural human rights to free speech and peaceful assembly that are protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Basically, the supporters of the bill dressed it up in lies and propaganda, and did the bidding of the abortionists to protect their businesses.

I’ve written about this bill before, and I don’t want to belabor the details too much. Intro. 826 contains vague and uncertain terms – like “harass” and “interfere” – that are deliberately left undefined and unclear. This would chill the free speech rights of pro-lifers who try to give information to women heading into abortion clinics, a right that is absolutely protected under the Constitution. We met with the staff of the City Council and tried to impress this upon them but they ignored us.

This bill is all about suppressing free speech, simply because powerful pro-abortion interest groups and profitable abortion clinics don’t like that speech. Sure, the rhetoric outside of abortion clinics can be unruly and even unpleasant. But the framers of our Constitution understood that the cost of democracy is the protection of all speech, even if those opinions are unpopular or disfavored by the powerful and rich. The City Council yesterday ignored this fundamental principle.

At the Council meeting, several of the members unintentionally tipped their hand. They bemoaned the fact that “protestors” are still outside of abortion clinics. That’s the real aim of the bill – not to stop harassment or intimidation, which is already a violation of city, state and federal law.

In her celebratory press conference, the Speaker of the Council, Christine Quinn posed an example of how the bill would work. She gave the hypothetical case of a woman who comes to the clinic, but turns away solely because there is a “protest” outside of it, even though nobody spoke to her, gave her anything, or did anything tangible to “harass” her. The Speaker said that in that case, the “protestors” would be arrested under this law.

That is absurd on its face. There is no way that this behavior could possibly be criminal – any prosecution would be easily dismissed as a violation of the Constitution. But it tells you what’s going on here. A significant public official of the City of New York is so ignorant of – or so indifferent to – the basic freedoms guaranteed to all Americans under our Constitution that she wants to suppress a protest because she does not like its content.

Several Council members – eight of them – voted against this bill. They are to be applauded. The other thirty-nine who voted for it are to be deplored.

Standing prominently in the Council chamber is a statue of Thomas Jefferson. The Council members who supported Intro. 826-A failed to see the tragedy of their vote to trash the First Amendment, while sitting in the shadow of the great defender of the “inalienable rights” of all.

Shame on them.

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