Md. city council targets pro-life groups with demands for private files

ADF attorneys file motion to protect privacy rights of pro-life organizations

6/13/2014

BALTIMORE — Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed a motion to quash Thursday on behalf of four pro-life organizations, not located in Maryland, who are being subpoenaed by the City Council of Baltimore. Baltimore and the pro-abortion law firm Center for Reproductive Rights have demanded access to the national pro-life organizations’ private files to help the city defend an ordinance that forces pregnancy resource centers in Baltimore to post signs discouraging women from using their services.

“Pro-life advocates should be free to keep their private files confidential, just like all other organizations,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Matt Bowman. “A pro-abortion city government and its allies in the abortion movement have no right to invade the privacy of national pro-life organizations to grind an ideological axe. What makes this fishing expedition even more outrageous is that the city already passed an ordinance against free speech in Baltimore and now is targeting the free speech of pro-life groups nationwide. This is a chilling example of a pro-abortion government abusing power to intimidate its opposition, reminiscent of the IRS scandal.”

Alliance Defending Freedom represents pro-life organizations Care Net, Heartbeat International, the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates, and Vitae Foundation.

As the motion, filed in Greater Baltimore Center for Pregnancy Concerns v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Northern Division, explains, “The City’s subpoenas exacerbate its First Amendment hostility by infringing on the freedom of expressive association of the Organizations. Their documents and testimony are being demanded not because they are regulated by the Ordinance (they are not) but because the Organizations reside on the opposite side of the abortion debate.”

The motion also explains, “No group of citizens can associate behind a common expressive cause if, for that reason alone, the government can demand they disclose their communications, their sources of revenue and donors, their organizational structure and the way in which they pursue their advocacy goals as they vie against competing viewpoints in the public square.”

“The First Amendment protects the constitutional freedoms of all groups, including pro-life organizations,” added ADF Litigation Counsel Elissa Graves. “We hope the court will quash these subpoenas, which chill free speech, and allow these organizations to advocate free from government inquisitions.”
 
  • Pronunciation guide: Bowman (BOH-min')
 
Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
 
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