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Abortion protesters sue Huntsville over free speech rights

Huntsville, Alabama, park and downtown cityscape at twilight. (STOCK PHOTO)

Thursday, Personhood Alabama announced that pro-life sidewalk advocates James and Carol Henderson have filed suit against the City of Huntsville alleging a violation of their constitutional right to free speech.

For years, Reverend and Mrs. Henderson have legally advocated for life on the public sidewalk outside of the abortion clinic in Huntsville with a permit obtained from the City of Huntsville.

According to the plaintiffs, in 2017, the city unexpectedly added what they feel was oddly restrictive language to the permit, to the effect that “[t]he amplified sound produced by a participant in the event shall not be plainly audible inside adjacent or nearby buildings.” The Hendersons contend that this new permit requirement is grossly unconstitutional and has put pro-life advocates through unnecessary apprehension regarding potential legal backlash from the city.

“All it would take for us to be arrested as we speak for life over the noise of the four lane road behind us,” Reverend James Henderson said, “would be for one abortion clinic employee to open a window and turn on a recorder. This is unacceptable.”

Matthew Clark is the attorney for the Hendersons.

Clark noted that “whether the City of Huntsville agrees with the Hendersons or with the abortion clinic regarding the nature of a human abortion, there is no circumstance under which the city can violate the constitutional right to free speech enjoyed by any law-abiding citizen in the United States.”

“Just try to imagine any other civil rights movement in our nation’s history,” Clark continued. “Imagine where we would be if cities across the country told civil rights advocates that it was fine to express their views as long as someone with their window open in a nearby building couldn’t hear them. That sounds absurd, because it is absurd.”

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“This makes Huntsville a danger zone for free speech,” Clark concluded. “We expect the courts to correct this violation and assist the City of Huntsville in protecting the constitutional rights of every law-abiding citizen.”

Personhood Alabama is an Alabama nonprofit corporation, recognized under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

Written By

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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