North Dakota police censor free speech of pro-life "truth truck"

WILLISTON, ND, Nov. 3, 2014/Christian Newswire --

The human life amendment on the North Dakota ballot for Tuesday's election remains hotly contested, but the right to free speech has long been guaranteed by the First Amendment. In Williston, North Dakota, police officers have silenced that free speech for pro-life advocates, who are being defended in court by the Thomas More Society.

Matt Trewhella, of Missionaries to the Preborn, and Rob Rudnick are supporters of the proposed human life amendment. They are also drivers of "truth trucks," vehicles adorned with large, graphic images of babies, both preborn and aborted. These "truth trucks" are intended to show the reality of abortion and influence North Dakota voters to uphold the human dignity of the unborn.

In August, just a little over two months before this election, Williston police officers ordered the pro-life advocates to remove the images. When Rudnick did not comply, he was arrested and the truck was confiscated. The case is set for pretrial hearing in district court in Williston on November 5, the day after the election. The Thomas More Society is defending Rudnick and is working with Trewhella and Missionaries to the Preborn, to pursue any redress that may be available to them in court.

"It's regrettable that Mr. Trewhella's and Mr. Rudnick's free speech was suppressed during this critical time before the election," said Tom Brejcha, Thomas More Society president and chief counsel. "Williston authorities have prohibited these pro-life advocates from proclaiming their pro-life message based on the content of that message, which is a patent violation of their First Amendment rights."

The images on Trewhella and Rudnick's "truth trucks" support North Dakota's proposed state constitutional human life amendment: "This constitutional measure would create and enact a new section to Article I of the North Dakota Constitution stating, 'The inalienable right to life of every human being at any stage of development must be recognized and protected.'"

The police report in the case explicitly states that it was the content of the signs on the trucks that prompted the police to suppress them. Trewhella was given a cease and desist directive to take his signs out of town and stay out of the city until after the election. Rudnick was likewise warned, but did not comply and was arrested, and his truck and signs were impounded.

"If someone disagrees with another's speech, the proper legal recourse is not suppression of speech but free speech in response," added Brejcha. "Our First Amendment does not permit silencing others just because you dislike their message."

Read the Williston, ND, police report in the case against Robert Rudnick here.

See a photo of the "truth truck" here.




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