Wisconsin Supreme Court Rules Unanimously to Vacate Injunction Barring Pro-Lifer From Sharing Message Outside Planned Parenthood Facility

Wisconsin Supreme Court

Beginning in 2014, pro-life advocate Brian Aish regularly shared his Christian and pro-life messages on a public sidewalk outside a Planned Parenthood facility in Blair, Wisconsin.

After almost a decade of fighting, on June 27, 2024, Aish won a unanimous victory at the Wisconsin Supreme Court, defeating an earlier court order that blocked Aish from coming near a Planned Parenthood nurse and sharing his pro-life views and Christian religious message outside the facility.

The case resulted from multiple interactions between Nancy Kindschy, a facility nurse, and Aish. Kindschy sought a court order barring Aish from being near her.

A county judge issued an injunction against Aish in 2020 that prohibited him from sharing his views outside the abortion facility.

Because, according to the court, Kindschy found Aish’s message to be “threatening,”  in 2022, a state appeals court upheld the injunction and ruled that it did not violate First Amendment speech protections.

Attorneys from Thomas More Society appealed directly to the Wisconsin Supreme Court in 2022, arguing that the accusations in the case did not involve any “true threat.”

In 2024,  the case was re-argued in light of the United States Supreme Court’s precedent-setting 2023 ruling in Counterman v. Colorado.

Lifesite reports, “In Counterman, the U.S. Supreme Court clarified that a speaker must act recklessly with regard to whether his or her words will be perceived as a ‘true threat.’ Thomas More Society attorneys successfully demonstrated, and the Wisconsin Supreme Court found, that absent any findings satisfying that requirement, the injunction prohibiting Aish’s speech could not stand.”

From Lifesite:

The Wisconsin Supreme Court unanimously ruled to vacate, or nullify, the injunction against Aish, concluding that “the injunction violates the First Amendment” and “the injunction is a content-based restriction on Aish’s speech and that it fails to satisfy strict scrutiny.” This is the highest standard of review that a court uses to evaluate the constitutionality of a given matter. Justice Rebecca Bradley, concurring in the judgment, noted in a separate opinion that the lower court “never deemed Aish’s statements true threats, and no reasonable factfinder could have made such a finding based on the record.” “An unconstitutional injunction impermissibly infringed Aish’s fundamental First Amendment right to speak freely on ‘a profound moral issue on which Americans hold sharply conflicting views,’” Justice Bradley added.

Joan Mannix, Thomas More Society executive vice president and managing counsel, stated: “We are very pleased that the Wisconsin Supreme Court vindicated Brian Aish’s free speech rights and restored his ability to continue sharing his pro-life message. Importantly, the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s decision was unanimous. It reaffirms that the First Amendment embodies a paramount American value of protecting free speech, even if the viewpoint expressed may be unpopular or controversial—a value that transcends partisan divides. The First Amendment, as Justice Rebecca Bradley wrote in her concurrence, ‘is a bulwark against the weaponization of the justice system to squelch or even criminalize disfavored political voices.’”

You can read the unanimous  Opinion and Decision of the Supreme Court of Wisconsin in Nancy Kindschy v. Brian Aishhere.

 

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