The Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals ruled on Wednesday that anti-choice activists who displayed graphic images on a truck circling a middle school are protected by the first amendment. According to the Los Angeles Times, the anti-choice group, the “Center for Bio-Ethical Reform,” drove a truck around Dobson Middle School in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, while students were arriving. The truck displayed 7-by-20 foot photos of aborted fetuses.
NKBC News reports that the assistant principle called the police after noting that several students were upset and teachers were having difficulty getting students into their classrooms. The Assistant Principle also prevented students from throwing rocks at the truck. The police searched the truck and asked the drivers to leave the area.
The three-judge panel unanimously ruled that this violated the defendant’s first amendments rights to free speech. The opinion noted “It would be an unprecedented departure from bedrock First Amendment principles to allow the government to restrict speech based on listener reaction.” The court also ruled that the police cannot be punished for their actions because they reasonably believed their conduct to be legal, according to the Los Angeles Times.