Will appeals court hear case of handcuffed pro-lifers?

Will appeals court hear case of handcuffed pro-lifers?

Two pro-life groups are asking a federal appeals court to hear their lawsuit that was filed after the 2020 arrest of two pro-life activists outside a Washington, D.C. abortion clinic. 

Will appeals court hear case of handcuffed pro-lifers?

Two pro-life groups are asking a federal appeals court to uphold their First Amendment actions on a Washington, D.C. sidewalk that ended with the arrest of two activists who defied police orders.

The two groups, Frederick Douglass Foundation and Students for Life of America, witnessed a federal court dismiss their lawsuit against the District of Columbia earlier this month. After that dismissal, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals is being asked to hear the so-called “chalking” case that dates from June 2020.

Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Elissa Graves says the pro-life activists appeared in front of a Planned Parenthood clinic where they attempted to write pro-life messages on the city sidewalk.

“This is somewhere they have done a lot of sidewalk chalking in the past,” she tells American Family News. “They had a permit to gather to have a Black Pre-born Lives Matter event where they intended to paint the street with this message, 'Black Pre-born Lives Matter.'"

When the groups arrived at the abortion clinic, however, at least seven police officers were waiting and warned the pro-life activists they were not permitted to paint or write on the sidewalk.

A video of the incident, which can be viewed below, shows two teenagers, a boy and a girl, being cuffed and led away as others film the arrest and an adult pro-life activist loudly protests.

Graves, Elissa (ADF) Graves

“You absolutely have to be joking,” the man, who is not identified in the Students for Life video, tells the police. “We’re standing front of an abortuary, where they kill children every day, and you’re taking young people away to the police department because they’re putting chalk on a sidewalk.”

"Two students were arrested for defacing property,” Graves says of that incident, “even though the District had allowed other messages like Defund the Police and Black Lives Matter in permanent paint on the street. So the District here is engaging in unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination."

A federal district court dismissed the case, leading the organizations to ask the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse that decision and allow the groups to have their day in court.

"The right to free speech is for everyone,” Graves says, “not just those that are in power.”