The City of Minneapolis has crossed the constitutional line in efforts to force abortion friendly laws to the disregard of guaranteed First Amendment rights. On April 5, 2023, Thomas More Society attorneys filed a federal lawsuit against Minnesota’s largest city on behalf of Pro-Life Action Ministries and several of the interdenominational Christian nonprofit organization’s staff members. The complaint, as submitted to United States District Court, District of Minnesota, challenges Chapter 405 of the Minneapolis City Code, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief from the violation of free speech, the right of expressive association, and the free exercise of religion, all constitutionally protected rights.
“The Minneapolis ordinance, Chapter 405, enacted in November 2022, was a deliberate attempt to stifle Pro-Life Action Ministries’ sidewalk outreach outside of Planned Parenthood,” explained Thomas More Society Special Counsel Erick Kaardal. “Minneapolis City Councilmember Lisa Goodman was the chief author of Chapter 405. Goodman made it publicly known that the enactment of Chapter 405 was a ‘creative decision’ while she awaits a codifying of abortion rights in Minnesota and nationwide, stating, ‘Never in my 25 years of being here have I ever gotten to do something as meaningful in the reproductive rights movement.’”
The lawsuit additionally quotes Goodman as saying, “We want the state to do something, but we want women to have access [to abortion] right now.”
Kaardal declared Goodman as being out of line, as he noted, “Councilmember Goodman, you cannot ride roughshod over the Constitution to deny freedom of speech, expressive association, and exercise of religion, regardless of what you want.”
“It’s a simple situation,” Kaardal added. “The ministry of pro-life sidewalk counseling is a peaceful interaction with pregnant women to convey life-affirming alternatives to abortion. Yet the City of Minneapolis has specifically enacted an ordinance designed to prevent any success at conducting this peaceful interaction by Pro-Life Action Ministries, its staff members or volunteers, and any others involved in similar activities. And, the young pregnant woman constitutionally loses by not getting the information she may want.”
The offending Chapter 405 of the Minneapolis City Code prohibits disrupting access to reproductive healthcare facilities and occupying driveways and defines such activities in a way that makes a calm, polite invitation to converse, made from the public right of way, impossible to achieve. Essentially, it creates what Kaardal labels “an unconstitutional, content-based exclusion zone, created exclusively for the purpose of shutting down pro-life speech outside of abortion facilities.”
“The City of Minneapolis can’t do that,” Kaardal concluded. “It violates the Constitution.”
Read the Complaint filed on April 5, 2023, in United States District Court, District of Minnesota by Thomas More Society attorneys, in the case, Pro-Life Action Ministries, et al. v. City of Minneapolis here.