This week the ACLJ, on behalf of our clients Anthony Miano and Nicholas Rolland, replied to a brief filed by the Defendants, Iowa Attorney General Thomas Miller and Johnson County Attorney Janet Lyness, in our case, Miano v. Miller, in federal court in Iowa.
As we told you here, on November 27th, the ACLJ filed a Motion for Preliminary Injunction on behalf of our clients. In this case the ACLJ is challenging an Iowa state statute which makes it a misdemeanor to make “loud and raucous noise in the vicinity of any residence or public building which causes unreasonable distress to the occupants thereof.” Our clients conduct pro-life outreach outside of abortion clinics in Iowa, and have suffered arrest and threats of future arrest and prosecution for their pro-life speech activities.
The government Defendants responded to our Motion by filing a Resistance Brief on December 11th. Defendants’ Resistance focuses substantially on the assumption that loud speech is not protected by the First Amendment. Defendants also contend that because the state has an interest in protecting the safety and welfare of its citizens, that it may silence speakers when it sees fit – or, as here, when a speaker causes “distress” to someone nearby.
We promptly filed a Reply Brief on December 18th, outlining the flaws in the Defendants’ arguments and reiterating our request that the District Court prevent Defendants from enforcing this unconstitutional law against our clients and anyone else in Johnson County, Iowa, who wants to conduct the same type of ministry.
We explained that the First Amendment does not apply only when “one keeps his or her voice down and engages in a polite protest. . . . Public protest, demonstration, and dissemination of ideas and beliefs are no less protected by the First Amendment simply because they may be loud.” Moreover, speech cannot be prohibited simply because someone takes offense to it. Such a threshold as this would be “so inherently subjective that it would be inconsistent with [the Supreme Court’s] longstanding refusal to [punish speech] because the speech in question may have an adverse emotional impact on the audience.”
We will continue to keep you updated as this case progresses. In the meantime, please join the fight to defend the unborn and sign our petition against pro-abortion laws. Your support on pro-life matters throughout 2018 has been invaluable, and we are grateful. We look forward to continuing to work together with you in 2019 on behalf of the unborn and their mothers.
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