CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey leads a 10-state effort urging a federal appeals court to support a religious organization’s free speech.
The coalition’s friend-of-the-court brief, filed Monday, defends a pregnancy center against the government’s attempt to undermine its ability to speak about and offer alternatives to abortion.
“I support and defend life at every stage,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “A center focused on promoting life and offering help to women in need shouldn’t be required to promote a message that directly contradicts their mission.”
The brief, filed before the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, supports the Greater Baltimore Center for Pregnancy Concerns. It opposes a Baltimore city ordinance that requires such centers to post signs telling clients that the facility does not provide or refer for abortions.
The Attorney General argues the ordinance uses consumer protection as cover to violate the First Amendment. It does so in targeting the non-commercial speech of charitable organizations who wish to communicate sincerely-held religious beliefs about abortion.
The ultimate ruling in this case could impact not only Maryland, but also West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.
West Virginia signed the brief with attorneys general from Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah.
Read a copy of the brief at http://bit.ly/2oxp2LF.