Since its founding, the American Freedom Law Center (AFLC) has been dedicated to protecting the lives of the unborn and the free speech rights of those who protest the horror of abortion.
Unfortunately, government entities across the country dominated by secular progressives have little respect for the right to life and the right to freedom of speech. As a result, AFLC works tirelessly to reverse this harmful trend, which is destroying our Nation’s moral foundation.
In this case, AFLC is defending Paul Dobrowolski, a pro-life advocate who for many years has engaged in peaceful, non-obstructive anti-abortion protests on the public sidewalks and streets outside of a local Planned Parenthood in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
As part of his pro-life advocacy, Dobrowolski displays signs in the windows of his vehicle, which he parks on the city street outside the abortion facility. The signs include the following: “Ask to See the Ultrasound,” “Abortion Hurts Women,” and “Free Ultrasound, Family Life Services, 2950 Packard, YPSI, 734-434-3088.”
In 2012, the City of Ann Arbor ticketed Dobrowolski for displaying these pro-life signs in his vehicle because they allegedly violated the Ann Arbor’s City Code, which prohibits a person to park a vehicle on a City street or highway “for the principal purpose of . . . [d]isplaying advertising.” According to the City police, Dobrowolski’s “Free Ultrasound” sign constituted “advertising.” On two occasions, Dobrowolski had to pay fines because of the tickets.
As a result, the American Freedom Law Center filed a federal civil rights lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan on April 23, 2013, against the City of Ann Arbor and its Chief of Police for violating Dobrowolski’s constitutional rights. The lawsuit alleges that Dobrowolski’s pro-life signs, including his “Free Ultrasound” sign, constitute political speech and are thereby protected from such restrictions under the First Amendment.
Through this lawsuit, AFLC is seeking a federal court order that would enjoin the future enforcement of the City Code, thereby allowing Dobrowolski to continue displaying all of his signs without fear of receiving another ticket.
In May 2013, a federal judge entered a stipulated order preliminarily halting the enforcement of the ordinance. The order will remain in effect during the pendency of a civil rights lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the ordinance.
On a broader level, AFLC is using this case as a platform for protecting the free speech rights of all pro-life advocates who seek to save the lives of the unborn.
CASE UPDATE (May 17, 2013): The district court entered an order enjoining the challenged speech restriction and awarding costs and attorneys’ fees. Case closed.