A Win For Liberty

Cops arrested man over his First Amendment right
Published: 14 hours ago

author-image BOB UNRUH About | Email | Archive
A charge that had been filed against a pro-life advocate in North Dakota who was driving a van plastered with “overly graphic” abortion images has been dismissed by a judge after attorneys for defendant Robert Rudnick argued the count violated the First Amendment.

“We are very happy that Judge [Paul W.] Jacobson has dismissed the charges,” said Tom Brejcha, president of the Thomas More Society.

“Mr. Rudnick’s arrest was based on content discrimination – a blatant violation of his First Amendment rights. Just because someone dislikes the pro-life message does not mean the message should be silenced,” he said this week.

Rudnick had been driving a van around Williston, North Dakota, last July when Officer Bill Holler pulled him over.

Rudnick was arrested, and according to the officer, it was because of his “overly graphic pictures.”

But Eugene Volokh, the constitutional law expert who teaches free speech law, religious freedom law and other subjects at the UCLA School of Law, got involved and noted the police report confirmed the unconstitutional basis for the arrest.

Order now your copy of “Abortion Free: Your Manual for Building a Pro-Life America One Community at a Time,” which was named Book of the Month by Jack Hibbs, senior pastor of Calvary Chapel Chino Hills in California.

The officer wrote, “I observed an older Dodge van pulling a small pull behind trailer with very graphic signs taped on both the units. The pictures were of [babies] that had been aborted. I initiated a traffic stop on the vehicle and identified the driver and owner as Robert A. Rudnick. … I read Robert his Miranda rights and asked if he understood his rights. Robert just stared at me. I placed Robert under arrest for disorderly conduct and he was handcuffed. I asked him to sit in my patrol unit in the backseat. I tried to explain to Robert that he was being arrested for the overly graphic pictures. Robert would not say anything. …”

Noted Volokh, who writes at the Volokh Conspiracy website, “Fortunately … a North Dakota trial court dismissed the charges against Rudnick; there was no written opinion, but Rudnick’s defense – on which I was delighted to consult pro bono – was based on the First Amendment.”

The Thomas More Society explained, “During last year’s campaign for a pro-life amendment to the North Dakota Constitution (‘Measure 1′), Mr. Rudnick, a Williston resident, and other pro-life activists such as Dan and Donna Holman of Iowa and Matt Trewhella of Missionaries to the Preborn, based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, were driving ‘truth trucks’ throughout North Dakota with large, detailed photos of unborn babies and aborted babies.

“The photos were intended to influence North Dakota voters to uphold the human dignity of the unborn. Mr. Rudnick was pulled over by the police and told to remove the photos from his truck. Because he did not comply with the police officers’ demands, he was arrested for disorderly conduct and his truck and signs were confiscated.”

The organization reported Williston police chased another “truth truck” out of town.

“Later, the city tried to claim that the images were overly distracting to other drivers, but offered no legitimate justification for censorship of this ‘distraction’ over the myriad other distractions drivers face all the time,” the legal team said.

In arguing for dismissal, the defense counsel said speech must not “be punished or banned, simply because it might offend’ someone.

“A picture is worth a thousand words,” said Volokh, “and pictures – however disturbing – are as constitutionally protected as words, whether they are pictures of aborted fetuses, war casualties, lynching victims, or abused animals. Whatever one’s views about abortion rights, such speech needs to be defended.”

Order now your copy of “Abortion Free: Your Manual for Building a Pro-Life America One Community at a Time,” which was named Book of the Month by Jack Hibbs, senior pastor of Calvary Chapel Chino Hills in California.
Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2015/02/decision-reached-on-overly-graphic-speech/#IT1GhYd6ad3WCxQD.99


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