Not everyone likes 40 Days for Life in their community.
Every now and then, overzealous public officials try to create new ordinances or twist the laws to get rid of the peaceful prayer vigil outside of an abortion center.
The target is often the signs that people hold while they're praying. It can be about the number, size or location of signs. Sometimes they'll even try to ban all signs from the public right-of-way.
When local 40 Days for Life leaders recognize a threat to their campaign's free speech rights, we ask for help from our friends at the Thomas More Society law center.
It usually doesn't take long to get things straightened out ... which was the case in Arkansas, where the Thomas More Society just scored a victory for freedom of speech.
Here's the story ...
The 40 Days for Life team in Fayetteville is in the middle of their 14th 40 Days for Life campaign. But they recently came across a brand-new challenge.
A highway department representative told the people praying on the sidewalk that because they were standing on a state-owned right-of-way, they needed to have state permits for the signs they were holding.
The employee added that if they didn?t get the appropriate permits, they could be fined as much as $100 for each person holding a sign.
Knowing that couldn?t possibly be correct, the Fayetteville leaders contacted the Thomas More Society ? which quickly sent a letter to the Arkansas highway department demanding that the state respect the participants? First Amendment free speech rights.
Within a matter of days, the state admitted that there was no requirement for sign permits at the vigil ? confirming ?what we already knew to be true: the First Amendment applies even next to a state highway,? said the Thomas More Society?s Corrina Konczal. ?40 Days for Life participants are able to hold signs informing passing drivers of their public stand for life without the fear of unjust criminal punishment.?