Independence Law Center asks high court to stop censorship of “offensive” speech
(HARRISBURG, PA) – The Independence Law Center, in conjunction with Jonathan D. Christman of Fox Rothschild LLP, filed a brief on February 13, 2015 with the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of Children First Foundation, a pro-adoption nonprofit that has been promoting its mission through specialty “Choose Life” license plates. Some states allow groups to apply for specialty license plates, which provide revenue both to the state and to these nonprofits. While a myriad of other plates were permitted, the state of New York denied Children First Foundation’s “Choose Life” license plate after it determined that the plate was “offensive.” Litigation on behalf of Children First Foundation is ongoing in the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
The U.S. Supreme Court is considering an almost identical issue in Walker v. Texas Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans, dealing with a plate that the state of Texas found to be “offensive.” Children First Foundation is filing a friend-of-the-court brief explaining the danger in allowing government agents discretion to ban speech based on its perceived offensiveness.
“Increasingly, the average American is finding that his speech may be disfavored by the government. Even Children First Foundation was told that ‘Choose Life’ is too offensive,” said Randall Wenger, Chief Counsel of the Independence Law Center in Harrisburg. “Regardless of whether someone supports adoption or life or any other issue, all of our freedoms are in jeopardy when government can pick and choose who should be silenced based upon the content of their speech.”
“We are hopeful that the Supreme Court will uphold the right of free speech against restriction by government agents in the Walker case so that none of us finds himself or herself censored by the government,” said Christman.