By Dave Andrusko
You would think with ten days to mull it over, the editorial page of the New York Times could up with something better than the lame criticism it offered yesterday bashing a decision in which a federal judge tartly criticized the New York City Council for an outrageous abridgement of First Amendment free speech rights.
Local Law 17 was a hand-over from NARAL to their buddies– pro-abortion NY City Council–in which the Council legislated NARAL’s policy preference: squelch, muffle, and, if possible, silence women helping center all under the bogus umbrella of “consumer protection.” The day before Local Law 17 was to go into effect, U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III took the council to the woodshed. His decision was thoughtful and very complete. (For our first discussion of the decision, see here)
The Times’ editorial disagrees with his 22-page decision, handed down July 13—no surprise there. What is surprising is that the editorial reads as if the writer didn’t even read Judge Pauley. (You can read the decision here)
The Times uncritically accepts NARAL’s allegations that the CPCs had been untruthful (indulging in fraudulent behavior). But, if as the council maintained (in Judge Pauley’s words), “anti-fraud statutes have been ineffective in prosecuting deceptive facilities,” wouldn’t you think there would be a track record of attempting to prosecute? In fact, as Judge Pauley wrote, “Defendants could not confirm that a single prosecution has ever been initiated.” Not one!
In two dismissive sentences, the Times dismisses the core not only of Judge Pauley’s decision but also of a January 28 decision by U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis who dismissed a similar attack on CPCs, this time by the city of Baltimore: that these statutes abridge the CPCs’ freedom of speech.
Although it was overlooked by the accounts I read, Judge Pauley made a critical observation that results-oriented types like the Times’ editorial page breeze over:”The First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of speech includes both the right to speak freely and the right to refrain from speaking at all,” Pauley explained.
There is a lot in his opinion that talks unfavorably about “government-preferred speech.” If the affected group were someone the Times liked, rather than hated, that would disturb them greatly.
The City of Baltimore and the City of New York have or will challenge the decisions. Understandably so. Allowing an alternative to the $1 billon PPFA corporate behemoth, even it is the under-funded, largely volunteer-run CPCs, is just the wrong kind of “choice.”