WEST PALM BEACH, FL, June 10, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A prominent pro-life attorney is accusing the city of West Palm Beach of engaging in a “conspiracy to silence pro-life Americans” by passing an ordinance to stifle a longsuffering sidewalk counselor, who recently prevailed against a Justice Department case.
Mary Susan Pine has held vigil outside the Presidential Women’s Center (PWC) on the corner of Northpoint Parkway and Village Blvd. for years, beginning after she recovered from the trauma of her own abortion.
The abortion facility has used local and federal authorities to silence her voice of dissent.
In 2008, the city passed an ordinance barring anyone from using amplified sound or raising their voices within 100 feet of the property line.
On September 4, 2010, Pine and her co-plaintiff Marilyn Blackburn used a bullhorn while standing behind a sign marked “Quiet Zone,” supposedly marking the legal boundary of the ordinance. However, a police officer used a laser device to measure the distance and found it was only 73 feet from the building.
Without warning them the sign was erroneous, an officer imposed a $250 fine, which was paid under protest.
The following week, police officers refused to tell protesters where they could stand in order to exercise their First Amendment rights legally.
The two women have engaged the services of Liberty Counsel, which is asking a U.S. district court to declare the statute unconstitutional.
The lawsuit, which was filed last Thursday, names the City of West Palm Beach and three members of the city's police force as defendants.
It is not the first time Pine, the founder of Faith Action Counseling Education for Life or FACE Life, has refused to back down when her right to free speech has been challenged.
Presidential Women’s Center Director Mona Reis was a close friend of then-Mayor Lois Frankel in 2005, when the city passed a noise ordinance. Pine challenged the statute in court, where it was ruled unconstitutional.
That case found that Frankel and Reis passed the ordinance to curtail “speech-related activities occurring at a single abortion clinic…and was designed to restrict the protest.”
Then, in 2008, the city passed the current, revised measure.
The city also turned down an application to hold a Holy Saturday event outside the abortion clinic on March 30 of this year.
“The conspiracy to silence pro-life Americans continues unabated in West Palm Beach,” said Mathew Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. “This ordinance is not only overly broad but also viewpoint discriminatory and is, therefore, flatly unconstitutional.”
The legal complaint says the city once again hopes to “prohibit Plaintiffs from effectively exercising their First Amendment rights.”
Further, Staver contends that the ban on amplified sound or raising one's natural voice is so broadly written that it could technically apply to a woman watching television in her own home or shouting up the stairway to her children.
Liberty Counsel argues that it violates another portion of the First Amendment, as well, substantially burdening the “free exercise of their religious beliefs by prohibiting Plaintiffs from fulfilling their Biblical mandate to promulgate the Gospel of Jesus Christ and evangelize others.”
“There is no right to be free of unwelcome speech on the public streets while seeking entrance to or exit from abortion clinics,” he reminded the court.
The PWC has also pursued what a federal judge ultimately declared a baseless case against Pine with the help of the Obama administration.
In 2010, the Justice Department accused Pine of violating the 1994 Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act, claiming she “blocked” an entrance when she stepped forward to give a passenger in a car a piece of literature that the passenger requested.
Last April, the Justice Department paid Mary Susan Pine $120,000 in lawyers’ fees to settle the case.
Federal Judge Kenneth Ryskamp pointedly questioned whether the prosecution “was the product of a concerted effort between the Government and the [abortion provider], which began well before the date of the incident at issue, to quell Ms. Pine’s activities.”
A few months later Thomas Perez, President Obama's nominee to become the next Secretary of Labor, boasted that he had used his position as assistant attorney general of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division to prosecute 20 pro-life activists under the FACE Act, including Pine.
“Liberty Counsel will not stand idly by while government officials — whether it be the Attorney General or the City of West Palm Beach — harass these law-abiding Americans for their pro-life beliefs,” Staver said.