Just when you thought Illinois Democrats had exhausted all their boneheaded ideas, they disappoint. To the list of moral, political, legal, and constitutional blunders committed by Democrats, there’s a new one and it’s garnering national attention, condemnation, and ridicule.
Democrats passed an outrageous bill to silence the First Amendment rights of crisis pregnancy centers—a bill which prevaricator Pritzker signed into law. The partisan law, SB 1909, sponsored by the surfeit of scoundrels in Springfield who self-identify as public servants, was challenged immediately by the Thomas More Society.
Federal District Court Judge Iain D. Johnston temporarily blocked implementation of the law in a scathing and comprehensive rebuke of SB 1909, the embarrassing work of defendant Kwame Raoul, Illinois’ inept political operative, attorney general, and co-drafter of the law.
SB 1909 is both stupid and very likely unconstitutional. It is stupid because its own supporter admitted it was unneeded and was unsupported by evidence when challenged. It is likely unconstitutional because it is a blatant example of government taking the side of whose speech is sanctionable and whose speech is immunized—on the very same subject no less. SB 1909 is likely classic content and viewpoint discrimination prohibited by the First Amendment. … A more unambiguous chilling and self-censorship of protected speech there cannot be.
As I wrote both in Feb. and last week, Democrats’ de facto amendment to the existing Consumer Fraud Act attempts to “use legitimate concerns about fraud and false advertising as smokescreens for their goal of killing more humans in their mothers’ wombs” by specifically targeting crisis pregnancy centers. Judge Johnston addresses this dangerous targeting:
Critically, SB 1909 specifically excludes from its scope abortion providers. SB 1909 does this by definition: “’Limited services pregnancy center’ means an organization or facility, including a mobile facility, that . . . does not directly provide abortions or provide or prescribe emergency contraception, and has no affiliation with an organization or provider who provides abortions or provides or prescribes emergency contraception. … SB 1909 requires on pain of various sanctions that they state or include in their written materials the benefits or positive effects of abortion, which will apparently be determined by Defendant Raoul in bringing an enforcement action. And, again, abortion providers are under no similar obligation.
In other words, under this law, a Planned Parenthood abattoir would be exempt from the various kinds of speech restrictions that would apply to crisis pregnancy centers.
Johnston pointed out that the Consumer Fraud Act provides a sufficient and preferable legal mechanism for remedying deception:
Defendant Raoul’s own Deputy Attorney General publicly stated that the Consumer Fraud Act—without SB 1909’s explicit inclusion of Centers and sidewalk counselors and explicit exclusion of abortion providers—would address the alleged concerns. And it would do so without blatant content and viewpoint discrimination.
Judge Johnston offered examples of the differential treatment of crisis pregnancy centers and human termination facilities that would result from SB 1909:
Plaintiffs are subject to civil penalties for omitting “material facts” but abortion providers are not. As the Court stated during the hearing without any pushback by Defendant Raoul’s counsel, SB 1909 immunizes abortion providers from asserting something as untruthful as this: “Abortions cure male pattern baldness.” But, in contrast, if Plaintiffs’ brochures highlighted only the negative side effects of abortion, they may be subject to liability for omitting “material facts."
SB 1909 also grants enormous discretionary power to the attorney general, currently Raoul, an integral part of the systemically biased leftist political machine that has been choking the life out of Illinois and unborn babies for years.
From the law:
Allows the Attorney General to enforce the Act when: it appears to the Attorney General that a limited services pregnancy center has engaged in, is engaging in, or is about to engage in any practice declared to be unlawful by the Act … or the Attorney General believes it to be in the public interest that an investigation should be made to ascertain whether a limited services pregnancy center has engaged in, is engaging in, or is about to engage in, any practice declared to be unlawful by the Act.
Jonathan Turley, George Washington University law school professor and graduate of University of Chicago and Northwestern University, warns about the encroaching First Amendment threats of which SB 1909 would be a part:
When the Framers drafted the First Amendment, they did so in absolutist terms to allow no abridgment of the freedom of expression. The language was unprecedented and unqualified. While the courts have read various exceptions into that language, it was a recognition that censorship and speech criminalization have always been an impulse of those in power. Moreover, it can create an insatiable appetite where limiting speech in one area leads to demands in other areas. Democratic leaders have shown that tendency in recent years with an expanding anti-free speech agenda, but no one more embodies this danger than Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker. … [SB 1909] would have gutted free speech protections and created a type of truth police. (emphasis added)
Turley emphasizes that both SB 1909 and Pritzker jeopardize the very foundation of America:
Pritzker declared that the law is “just like the case against President Trump. You have a right to free speech, but you don’t have a right to lie.” In his mind, it is that simple. It is not, of course. Lies are generally protected under the Constitution. In 2012, in the United States v. Alvarez decision, the Supreme Court held 6-3 that it is unconstitutional to criminalize lies in a case involving a politician who lied about military decorations. Notably, the Court’s warning about criminalizing false or misleading speech fits the Illinois law and Pritzker to a tee. The Court said that such laws “would give government a broad censorial power unprecedented in this Court’s cases or in our constitutional tradition. The mere potential for the exercise of that power casts a chill, a chill the First Amendment cannot permit if free speech, thought, and discourse are to remain a foundation of our freedom.”
There was once a day when Democrats and Republicans shared such a vision of America. But that was then, and this is now—in Illinois under the big, fat, blue thumb of tyrants. While Pritzker and Raoul are bearing the brunt of the ridicule and condemnation, every Democrat who voted for it should be wearing a scarlet “F” and “T” for fool and traitor.