Free Speech

The Supreme Court has taken up the case of National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (Nifla) v Becerra, whose proximate subject centers on abortion rights but whose real subject is freedom of  speech.

California’s Reproductive FACT Act, the law in question in NIFLA, requires pro-life centers to advise their clients of the availability of abortion centers.  This is forced speech, and it destroys the 1st Amendment’s protection of freedom of speech, since speech cannot be freely spoken if it cannot also be freely not spoken.  This is as true for factual speech as it is for opinion speech.

The Supreme Court expressly held as much…when it rejected a distinction between compelled statements of opinion and compelled statements of fact, finding that “either form of compulsion burdens protected speech.”

Indeed. And one obvious consequence of losing that distinction (by, for instance, ruling for Becerra rather than for NIFLA) would be to expose all news outlets to lawsuits over their editorial choices of what sets of facts to publish and what to withhold in every single article they publish.

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