Unconstitutional: Court Orders State Attorney General Not to Enforce California’s Reproductive FACT Act

Yesterday, in Riverside County Superior Court, Judge Gloria Trask granted an injunction against the California State Attorney General and he is now prevented from enforcing the Reproductive FACT Act. Click to see our Press Release. In the clearly ideological vote that completely ignored freedom and liberty, the Democrat-controlled California state legislature’s passing of AB 757, known as the Reproductive FACT Act, infringed on its own citizens’ free speech by compelling speech.

          Our lawsuit was filed on behalf of the Scharpen Foundation challenging the California law that requires pro-life pregnancy centers to provide their patients with contact information for local abortion clinics.  In its decision, the Court found that “the Reproductive FACT Act violates Article I, Section 2 of the California Constitution.”

     Judge Gloria Trask explained, “Here, the State commands clinics to post specific directions for whom to contact to obtain an abortion. It forces the clinic to point the way to the abortion clinic and can leave patients with the belief they were referred to an abortion provider by that clinic…. In Scharpen’s case that would be inaccurate, profoundly inaccurate.” “Compelled speech must be subject to reasonable limitation,” continued Judge Trask. “The statute compels the clinic to speak words with which it profoundly disagrees when the state has numerous alternative methods of publishing its message…. In this case, however virtuous the State’s ends, they do not justify its means.”   “We are thrilled with Judge Trask’s ruling, which is a huge victory for free speech,” said Scott Scharpen, founder and president of The Scharpen Foundation, which operates the Go Mobile For Life pregnancy clinic. He added, “The whole notion of being compelled to share information with our patients about abortion availability, which is contrary to our mission and purpose, is fundamentally wrong. Lives will be saved because of this ruling.”

With funding raised by Advocates for Faith & Freedom, Tyler & Bursch’s lawyers strategically filed the lawsuit in state court because the California State Constitution provides greater free speech protection than the First Amendment.

Tyler & Bursch, LLP attorney Robert Tyler lauded, “It is a great day in California because we know that freedom of speech is still a protected constitutional right. Judge Trask is absolutely correct that the State can’t force a pro-life clinic to advertise abortions on behalf of the State and its abortion mills.” He continued, “If the State Attorney General appeals, we will continue to defend our client’s pro-life speech all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Many of us are not aware that the Preamble of the California Constitution states, "We, the People of the State of California, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, in order to secure and perpetuate its blessings, do establish this Constitution." 

In an irony that only God could have conceived, Nada Higuera, the attorney who argued the case, discovered she was pregnant with her first child when she initially pleaded this pro-life case. She gave birth to her baby girl just a month before her convincing final arguments were heard by the judge.

“As a young female and defender of speech, I am thrilled to know that our work is not in vain, said Higuera. I’ve regrettably had an abortion. And I’ve just recently experienced the incomparable joy of having a baby. I wish I would have had the opportunity to visit a pro-life clinic when I was just 16 years old and contemplating an abortion.

Yesterday’s ruling established that “[C]ompelled speech of a political or cultural nature is not the tool of a free government.”  Essentially, “The legislature may not use the wall of the physician’s office as a billboard to advertise the availability of low cost abortions….”

The ruling provides injunctive relief statewide and prevents the law from being enforced effective immediately.

Along with the American Center for Law & Justice, Tyler & Bursch, LLP also represents Livingwell Medical Clinic in a concurrent case in federal court. We are awaiting a decision in November from the U.S. Supreme Court as to whether the High Court will take the case. Our two-front strategy has given us the ability to win in either federal or state court...or, God willing, both.

      We are grateful to God for the wisdom of the words written in our state constitution! We also thank you for your faithful prayers and your tax-deductible donations which allow our Advocates attorneys to continue their pro bono work defending life and liberty in the courts!