Ben Johnson


Governor, ACLU demand to know why state government vans blocked pro-life signs

Ben Johnson

JUNEAU, AK, April 10, 2013 ( – Governor Sean Parnell and the American Civil Liberties Union are not often on the same side, but they both agree state employees violated the constitutional rights of state citizens when they used state vehicles to block signs held by pro-life protesters in the state capital.

Trucks and vans from the state's Department of Administration and the Legislature kept peaceful demonstrators from being seen for two days last week.

Protesters with the Center for Bioethical Reform stood in front of the state capitol building in Juneau last Tuesday and Wednesday, holding graphic images of aborted children.

The state Court System requested their signs – which violate no law – be hidden on Tuesday. The Legislature made the same request on Wednesday, according to Governor Parnell.

After parking, one of the employees told the participants, “Just doing what I was told. Sorry.”

According to participants, CBR Alaska contacted the offices of State Senator John Coghill, a pro-life Republican and the author of the bill, on Tuesday and the vehicles were driven away after about 90 minutes.

But the next day, the vehicles were back.

“It was totally inappropriate that employees of the Department of Administration, the Court System and the Legislature were involved in parking state vehicles in front of the peacefully assembled demonstrators, who were violating no state law,” Governor Parnell said. “I have given direction to the Department of Administration to ensure this does not happen in the future unless public safety is at risk or the rule of law violated. I urge the Legislature and the Court System to do the same for their employees.”

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State Senator Mike Dunleavy, R-Wasilla, said simply, “This is an outrage.”

The ACLU has intervened, demanding the state turn over all records related to the event within the next 10 days.

Inside the capitol, lawmakers were debating a bill to define which abortions had to be funded by state taxpayers. The measure passed a senate committee yesterday.

The Center for Bioethical Reform figured into another censorship controversy this week, as Johns Hopkins University denied Voice for Life recognition as an official student group in part because VFL linked to the center – as well as more than 90 other pro-life organizations. The university granted the petition last night, but only after the threat of legal action.

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