[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] Tuesday that a regulation requiring crisis pregnancy centers to give women certain information concerning free or low-cost abortion services and disclose if the center was unlicensed to provide medical services was unconstitutional.
In a 5-4 ruling in NIFLA v. Becerra [docket], the court decided that the California Reproductive Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care, and Transparency Act (FACT Act) violated the First Amendment rights of crisis pregnancy centers by “alter[ing] the content of [their] speech.”
Writing for the majority, Justice Clarence Thomas noted that:
Even if California had presented a nonhypothetical justification for the unlicensed notice, the FACT Act unduly burdens protected speech. The unlicensed notice imposes a government-scripted, speaker-based disclosure requirement that is wholly disconnected from California’s informational interest. It requires covered facilities to post California’s precise notice, no matter what the facilities say on site or in their advertisements.
Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Anthony Kennedy and Neil Gorsuch joined Thomas’s opinion. Kennedy wrote a concurring opinion which Roberts, Alito and Gorsuch also joined. Justice Stephen Breyer wrote a dissenting opinion which Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan joined.
The case was filed in US District Court in October 2015 by a group of crisis pregnancy centers and the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates [advocacy website] shortly after the passage of the FACT act. In November the Supreme Court granted NIFLA’s petition for a writ of certiorari, and the case was argued in March.