NEW YORK, March 24, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) today filed a federal lawsuit challenging a new ordinance in New York City that targets crisis pregnancy centers. In the suit, the ACLJ represents numerous crisis pregnancy centers and contends the law violates the U.S. Constitution as well as the New York State Constitution.
"Since this ordinance was first proposed, we have put the city council and the mayor on notice that it was unconstitutional and that we were prepared to challenge it immediately if passed. We're now moving forward with that challenge," said CeCe Heil, ACLJ Senior Counsel. "This measure is troubling because it violates crisis pregnancy centers' First and Fourteenth Amendment rights, specifically protected by the constitution. We are committed to protecting the rights of our clients and are urging the federal court to halt implementation of this ordinance and declare it unconstitutional. Similar ordinances have already been struck down in federal court and we have no doubt that this ordinance will be rejected as well."
The New York City Council passed the measure in early March and Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed the bill into law last week.
The ACLJ represents EMC Frontline Pregnancy Centers and AAA Pregnancy Problems Center which operate a total of 13 crisis pregnancy centers across New York City. The ACLJ filed suit today on their behalf in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
The suit contends that the ordinance violates the constitutionally protected rights to freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and association, freedom of the press, and due process of law, guaranteed to Plaintiffs by the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, as well as the New York Constitution.
The ordinance requires crisis pregnancy centers to disclose in advertisements and in their facilities a list of services they do not provide, such as abortions or emergency contraception; it also requires the centers to make disclosures verbally.
The lawsuit contends that at a minimum, the ordinance "unconstitutionally compels Plaintiffs to speak messages that they have not chosen for themselves, with which they do not agree, and that distract from and detract from the messages they have chosen to speak." The lawsuit is posted here.
The ACLJ asks the court to keep the ordinance from being implemented while the lawsuit proceeds. The suit seeks injunctive relief, in the form of preliminary and permanent injunctions, and urges the court to declare the law unconstitutional. The ACLJ is being assisted in the case by Christopher A. Ferrara, New York Litigation Counsel to American Catholic Lawyers Association, who is serving as local counsel.
Similar ordinances were recently struck down as unconstitutional by federal judges in Baltimore and Montgomery County, Maryland.
Led by Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow, the American Center for Law and Justice focuses on constitutional law and is based in Washington, D.C. The ACLJ is online at www.aclj.org.
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SOURCE American Center for Law and Justice