“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
I often think of this quote in our work at Alliance Defending Freedom. Our cases tend to center on culturally controversial topics and land ADF and our clients on the opposite end of the government-favored viewpoint.
That’s why a recent court case caught my attention.
In this particular case, a court ruled that the pro-Palestinian organization, the National Lawyers Guild, had violated the law when it declined to run an ad from an Israeli organization in its banquet program, the Dinner Journal.
Whatever side you fall on in the Israel/Palestine conflict, the court’s ruling against the National Lawyers Guild is problematic. As Eugene Volokh writes at Reason.com:
The Dinner Journal is a publication that is just as protected by the First Amendment as a newspaper. (The Supreme Court has long recognized that the freedom from compelled speech applies to all speakers, whether or not they are members of the institutional media.) The National Lawyers Guild has an absolute right to choose what not to publish in the Dinner Journal's pages; and whatever antidiscrimination law might say about clubs' decisions about whom to admit (see Roberts v. U.S. Jaycees (1983)), it can't limit speakers' decisions about what to include in their publications.
Volokh goes on to explain that though he disagrees with the National Lawyers Guild’s “boycott of Israelis,” the organization still has the right to free speech and the freedom from being forced to print a message in its own publication to which it objects.
And he is right.
In America, the government should not be permitted to force people and organizations to speak messages with which they disagree.
Unfortunately, that is no longer a given.
At Alliance Defending Freedom, we are dedicated to defending the right of people to speak freely. But, equally as important, we are dedicated to defending the right of people and organizations not to speak messages with which they disagree.
That’s why we argued on behalf of the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) at the U.S. Supreme Court on March 20—to defend free speech from a California law that forces pro-life pregnancy centers to advertise for the abortion industry.
Just as Volokh disagrees with the National Lawyers Guild on the Israel/Palestine conflict, you might disagree with ADF, NIFLA, and pro-life pregnancy centers about abortion. But disagreement shouldn’t stop any of us from standing for freedom of speech and freedom from compelled speech.
The loss of that freedom . . . is a loss for us all.