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CA Legislator Defiant After Supreme Court Rebuke

Assemblywoman Autumn Burke (D-Englewood) was defiant last month after the U.S. Supreme Court rebuked her Reproductive FACT Act as a violation of the First Amendment. The California Democrat Assembly leadership released a video of her reaction after Justice Anthony Kennedy compared her bill to the actions of  “authoritarian regimes” of the past that were “relentless” in their attempt to “stifle free speech.” 

Burke expressed her contempt at a press conference where she explained the FACT Act was her way of “politely” asking pro-life pregnancy centers to comply with communicating her abortion message. After this judicial reprimand, Burke promises to come after pro-life pregnancy centers harder than ever.

“We politely asked pregnancy care centers to lie less, and that didn’t work,” Burke said. “So I guess we are going to have to be a little less polite next time.”
Watch the press conference with Assemblywoman Autumn Burke below standing next to co-author Assemblyman David Chiu (D-San Francisco.)

The so-called “Reproductive FACT Act,” which became law in October of 2015, forced medically licensed pregnancy care centers, in violation of their sincerely held beliefs, to post signs telling women how to get free abortions. The law even required these signs provide a phone number so clients can be referred an abortion center such as Planned Parenthood.

The law also required non-medically licensed pregnancy centers to post a disclaimer in their centers and their advertising that they are not a medical facility – in up to 13 different languages. This requirement made it virtually impossible for them to advertise their services.

Justice Anthony Kennedy explained why a law like this is violates the freedom of speech rights protected in the First Amendment.

“It is not forward thinking to force individuals to “be an instrument for fostering public adherence to an ideological point of view [they] fin[d] unacceptable.” Id, 430 U. S. 705, 715 (1977),” Kennedy wrote.

“It is forward thinking to begin by reading the First Amendment as ratified in 1791; to understand the history of authoritarian government as the Founders then knew it; to confirm that history since then shows how relentless authoritarian regimes are in their attempts to stifle free speech; and to carry those lessons onward as we seek to preserve and teach the necessity of freedom of speech for the generations to come.

Governments must not be allowed to force persons to express a message contrary to their deepest convictions. Freedom of speech secures freedom of thought and belief. This law imperils those liberties.”

Unmoved by the judicial decision, Burke completed her statement with a direct message to the U.S. Supreme Court. “You shot one over the bow. We’re going to shoot three over the bow,” Burke said. “We are going to protect women’s healthcare. We are going to protect women’s rights and you are going to have to do better than this decision. “

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