In a highly irregular move, the Baltimore City Council subpoenaed pro-life groups, not located in Maryland, in a lawsuit in which they have no involvement.
The city and the pro-abortion law firm Center for Reproductive Rights have demanded access to the organizations' private files to help the city defend an ordinance that forces pregnancy resource centers in Baltimore to post signs discouraging women from using their services.
"No government or pro-abortion group has the right to invade the privacy of national pro-life organizations simply to grind an ideological axe," said Matt Bowman of Alliance Defending Freedom. "This fishing expedition is all the more worse because the city, which passed an ordinance against free speech within its borders, is now targeting the free speech of pro-life groups nationwide. This is nothing less than an abuse of power meant to intimidate groups to which the city is ideologically opposed."
ADF represents pro-life organizations Care Net, Heartbeat International, the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates, and Vitae Foundation.
The hearing concerns a June 12 motion to quash the subpoenas in Greater Baltimore Center for Pregnancy Concerns v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore. That motion, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Northern Division, argued, "The City’s subpoenas exacerbate its First Amendment hostility by infringing on the freedom of expressive association of the organizations. Their documents and testimony are being demanded not because they are regulated by the ordinance (they are not) but because the organizations reside on the opposite side of the abortion debate".
The motion also explained, "No group of citizens can associate behind a common expressive cause if, for that reason alone, the government can demand they disclose their communications, their sources of revenue and donors, their organizational structure and the way in which they pursue their advocacy goals as they vie against competing viewpoints in the public square."