Austin, TX, August 27, 2015 – The City of Austin will pay $480,000 in attorney fees and court costs to settle a case by local pro-life pregnancy resource centers that won a ruling in federal court that a city ordinance that targeted the centers was unconstitutional. The court case played out over nearly four years, beginning in 2011. The City of Austin passed an ordinance forcing pro-life pregnancy centers to post signs in front of their buildings that contained false and misleading messages about their services. However, pro-abortion facilities were not required to post signs about their services or procedures.
Liberty Institute, who represented the Austin area pregnancy resource centers and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Austin in the case, challenged the constitutionality of the ordinance in 2012. Texas Values President and Attorney, Jonathan Saenz, was part of Liberty’s legal team as a former lawyer for Liberty Institute. In 2014, U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel ruled that the Austin ordinance unconstitutionally targeted the religious life-affirming groups. He found that the ordinance was void for vagueness and ruled that the City of Austin may not enforce the unconstitutional ordinance against the Diocese and other pregnancy resource centers. The City of Austin did not appeal the decision. Lawyers affiliated with Alliance Defending Freedom also represented pro-life centers in this case.
Texas Values President and Attorney Jonathan Saenz released the following statement:
“This court victory for centers that serve women and children should be a lesson for the City of Austin and any other governmental entities that try to restrict the First Amendment rights of nonprofit faith-based entities – if you deny our rights, you will lose. The settlement rightfully shows there is a high cost for targeting the First Amendment religious freedom and free speech rights of faith-based nonprofit centers. These non-profit centers put in countless hours and efforts into helping the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of women when they desperately need it most. We are thankful that the centers can place this ordeal to rest and continue what they do best – saving lives and meeting the needs of women and children in Austin.”