One year after the Mississippi Justice Institute filed a lawsuit against the city of Jackson, the city council has repealed their buffer zone ordinance that restricted free speech around abortion clinics.
Last October, MJI and members of Sidewalk Advocates for Life – Jackson, Mississippi launched a constitutional challenge to Jackson’s prohibition on pro-life counseling and other free speech outside the state’s only abortion facility.
“We are pleased that the city of Jackson has decided to do the right thing and end this unconstitutional restriction on free expression,” said Aaron Rice, Director of the Mississippi Justice Institute. “This is a major victory for free speech for Jackson and the state of Mississippi.
The old ordinance banned individuals who are near health facilities from approaching within eight feet of any person without consent, for the purpose of engaging in various forms of speech such as counseling, education, or distributing leaflets; bans people from congregating or demonstrating within 15 feet of the abortion facility, and bans any amplified sound. Violations of the ordinance could have result in fines of up to $1,000 and 90 days in jail.
“Sometimes, the law ends up being what it should be, and this is such a time,” said Andy Taggart, a founding partner in Taggart, Rimes & Graham who served as pro bono co-counsel. “The city of Jackson has rescinded an ordinance that should have never been the law to begin with, and, at least for now, things are set right.”