BROWN v. CITY OF PITTSBURGH Civil Action No. 06-393.
543 F.Supp.2d 448 (2008)
Mary Kathryn BROWN, Plaintiff, v. CITY OF PITTSBURGH, et al., Defendants.
United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania.
February 22, 2008.
George R. Specter, Yvonne Schlosberg Hilton, Michael E. Kennedy, City of Pittsburgh Department of Law, Pittsburgh, PA, for Defendants.
NORA BARRY FISCHER, District Judge.
This action comes before the Court upon Plaintiff, Mary Kathryn Brown's
Upon review of Brown's Motion and Brief [DEs 22 & 23], the City Defendants' response thereto [DE 35], the transcript of the evidentiary hearing held on September 21, 2006 including exhibits presented to the Court, Brown's Proposed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law [DEs 50 & 52], the City Defendants' Proposed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law [DEs 49 & 51], the transcripts of the City Council meetings leading to the passage of the challenged ordinance,
Brown filed a Motion for Preliminary Injunction on June 28, 2006, seeking to enjoin the City Defendants from enforcing the Ordinance as applied to her. (Docket No. 23, at 1). She maintains that the Ordinance restricts her ability to protest, an activity in which she has engaged outside various reproductive health facilities in the City of Pittsburgh for a number of years. Id. Specifically, Brown alleges that the provisions of the Ordinance are unconstitutional as applied to her individual abortion protest activities at entrances to three facilities: Planned Parenthood in downtown Pittsburgh, Allegheny Reproductive Health Center, and Allegheny Women's Center, both in the East Liberty neighborhood of the City of Pittsburgh. (Docket No. 50, at 2 ¶ 7; Exhibits in Support of Plaintiffs Motion for Preliminary Injunction 5-7 (hereafter, "Pls.Exh.")). These facilities provide medical services to women, including abortions. The City Defendants filed their Opposition to Brown's Motion on August 3, 2006 [DE 35], and a full evidentiary hearing was held on September 21, 2006 before the Honorable Thomas M. Hardiman [DE 44]. Following the hearing, the parties submitted Proposed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law [DEs 50-52]. During a status conference held on May 16, 2007 [DE 54], this Court
II. Findings of Fact
Identification of the Parties
1. Brown has worked as a Registered Nurse in Pittsburgh for twenty-two years. (Docket No. 50, at 2 ¶ 1).
2. Because of her experiences as an Emergency Department nurse, along with her religious beliefs, Brown engaged in sidewalk counseling and leafleting outside three medical services facilities: Planned Parenthood in downtown Pittsburgh, Allegheny Reproductive Health Center in East Liberty, and Allegheny Women's Center in East Liberty. There are sidewalks in front of the entrances of all three facilities. (Id. at ¶ 7).
3. Defendant City of Pittsburgh is a municipal corporation designated as a city of the second class within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Defendant Pittsburgh City Council is the legislative body of the City. Defendant Bob O'Connor was the former Mayor of the City prior to his death in September 2006, after which he was dismissed as party from this action. Defendant Luke Ravenstahl is the current Mayor of the City. (Docket No. 49, at 1 ¶ 2-4). At the time of the Ordinance's passage, he was a member of the City Council. (Docket No. 49-3, at 1).
Enactment of the Ordinance
4. The Ordinance originated in the Public Safety Services Committee and it was sponsored by Douglas Shields, William Peduto, James Motznik, and Sala Udin. (See Appendix A). The law supplements the Pittsburgh Code of Ordinances, Title 6, Conduct Article I: Regulated Rights and Actions, by adding anew chapter, specifically Section 623, "Public Safety at Health Care Facilities." (See Appendix A).
5. At the open hearings held before the Ordinance was enacted, the public commented on the physical violence and verbal harassment that was occurring at these facilities. (See Docket No. 49-2, at 12-14, 18, 20-21, 35, 38-39, 43, 49, 53-54, 60; Docket No. 49-3, at 13, 1'5, 19). City Council accepted comments describing the need for the Ordinance to prevent future harm and provide additional safety to those walking on the city's streets. (Docket No. 49-2, at 12-14, 18, 20-21, 35, 38-39, 43, 49, 53-54, 60).
6. At the public meetings, the need for a more efficient use of the Pittsburgh City Police was discussed. In the six months prior to December of 2005, the City Police were summoned to the downtown facility on Liberty Avenue twenty-two (22) times. (Docket No. 49-2, at 53; Docket No. 49-3, at 13). In January of 2005, because of city budget problems, the police assignment to the downtown Planned Parenthood was eliminated. (Docket No. 49-2, at 8). Without the support of police supervision, the downtown facility has experienced an increase in problems between protestors and patients. Id. Between February and November of 2005, the downtown Planned Parenthood received sixty (60) complaints from patients regarding problematic and often physical confrontations with protestors. (Docket No. 49-3, at 13).
7. In response to concerns of violent confrontations, issues relating to the use of public sidewalks, inefficiency in the deployment of municipal police officers, lack of certainty by citizens and police officers as to proper behavior, and other matters, the City Defendants enacted Ordinance No. 49 on December 23, 2005, by a vote of six to three.
8. The challenged provisions of the Ordinance, which became effective on December 30, 2005, provide in their entirety:
(Ordinance, Sections 623.03, 623.04, and 623.05) (emphasis in original).
9. The purpose and intent behind the creation of the Ordinance is set forth in the Ordinance as follows:
(Ordinance, Section 623.01).
10. Prior to enacting Ordinance No. 49, the Pittsburgh City Council heard public comment on the proposed bill on December 7, 2005 and December 13, 2005. During these hearings, all members of the public were permitted to comment on the pending legislation. (Docket No. 49, at 2 ¶ 6). Plaintiff Brown was one of the many people who appeared and commented regarding the proposed legislation. (Id. at ¶ 7). Brown stated that she is not protesting; she stands on the sidewalks to "offer distraught women the truth." (Docket No. 49-2, at 5). She further commented that she believes the patients of these facilities are being denied information about the risks and benefits of abortion. (Id.). Brown claimed that she goes out to protest to provide the information these patients need in order to make an informed decision, and that the Ordinance prevents her from doing so. (Id. at 5-6).
11. During the past fifteen years, Brown has spent hundreds of hours outside abortion facilities because she believes that if she does not go to these facilities "precious lives will be lost." (Docket No. 50, at 3 ¶ 13).
12. Brown goes out in front of abortion clinics from 7 a.m. until either 10 or 11 a.m., depending on her schedule for that particular day. She chooses that time because that is when she believes women are getting abortions. (Id. at ¶ 15-16).
13. Brown claims she has never trespassed or blocked vehicular or pedestrian ingress or egress to an abortion facility. Brown has never engaged in shoving, kicking, pushing, or elbowing of patients or anyone else outside abortion facilities. (Id. at ¶ 19).
14. When engaged in such speech activities, Brown stands on the sidewalk to the side of the entrance to abortion facilities, or she walks alongside a woman who is walking on the sidewalk in the direction of an abortion facility, in order to hand said woman a leaflet and/or have a conversation. (Id. at ¶ 20) (See Pls. Exh. 5-7
16. Brown claims that she does not yell out to individuals or resort to a sound device because she believes that these methods eliminate any interest in her message by her intended audience. (Id. at ¶ 22).
17. Brown claims that throughout the years in which she has engaged in such speech activities, some women have continued their pregnancies as a result of her efforts. (Id. at 4 ¶ 23).
Brown's Testimony at the September 21, 2006 Evidentiary Hearing
18. Brown testified that she does not understand what much of the Ordinance means in the context of her speech, including what subject matter the Ordinance prohibits, what conduct or words constitute "consent," from whom she must obtain "consent," and whether the "no approach" prohibition applies to all individuals or just to individuals that intend to enter a facility where abortions may be performed. Brown maintains that she does not know what is required under the Ordinance in order to obtain consent. Furthermore, Brown states that she does not know whether she is prohibited from taking a step or even leaning toward someone to hand them some literature. (Transcript of Evidentiary & Preliminary Injunction Hearing held on September 21, 2006, at 44:13-23 (hereafter, "Trans.I.")).
19. Brown maintains that she does not know whether consent is given by a Woman looking at her, stopping to talk or listen, or accepting her literature. Moreover, Brown does not know how to obtain consent when there are two people walking together, whether she needs consent from one or both, or what she can do regarding her approach within eight feet if she obtains consent from one but not the other. (Trans. I, at 44:24, 45: 1, 4-7, 8-25).
Brown's Reason for Bringing this Lawsuit
20. Brown has filed this lawsuit, including a request for injunctive relief, against the City Defendants asserting that Defendant City's application of Ordinance No. 49 is unconstitutional as applied to her under both the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution
21. Brown claims, inter alia, that with respect to the eight-foot floating bubble zone established by the Ordinance, she must run out into the street in order to "walk along side and speak with people." (Docket No. 50, at 11 ¶ 108). Whether or not Brown is forced into the street depends on where she is protesting. For example, the sidewalk in front of the downtown facility of Planned Parenthood is shorter in width than the sidewalks around the facilities in East Liberty. (See Pls. Exh. 5).
First Enforcement of the Ordinance against Brown
22. On January 28, 2006, while Brown was engaging in speech activities at the downtown Planned Parenthood facility, Officer Timothy Alexander of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police drove up to Planned Parenthood in a marked Pittsburgh police car with lights flashing and sirens on. City Police were dispatched to the scene by 911 operators after the security officer at the facility placed a call for assistance because Brown was allegedly violating the Ordinance. (Docket No. 49, at 6 ¶ 31; Docket No. 50, at 5 ¶¶ 41-43).
23. Officer Alexander has over fifteen years of experience as a Pittsburgh Police Officer. During his service to the City, he spent many hours observing protesters at various locations, including outside medical services clinics. (Docket No. 49, at 6 ¶ 35).
24. Upon arrival at the scene, Officer Alexander, in uniform, witnessed protesters inside the fifteen foot buffer zone and noted that they dispersed upon his arrival. Subsequently, he went inside the abortion facility for approximately ten minutes to inquire as to the reason for the call. (Docket No. 49, at 7 ¶¶ 36-37).
25. As Officer Alexander came back outside, a guard at the abortion facility held the door open from inside and pointed Brown out to Officer Alexander. Officer Alexander spoke with various persons outside the clinic; he advised all of the protesters of the law and their need to comply therewith. (Docket No. 50, at 6 ¶ 44; Docket No. 49, at 7 ¶¶ 37-39).
26. When Officer Alexander approached Brown, she told him that she did not want any trouble. Ms. Brown informed him that she needed clarification about the Ordinance because she heard conflicting information from the facility employees. (Docket No. 50, at 6 ¶ 45).
27. In seeking to force Brown to comply with the Ordinance, Officer Alexander told her that in order to obtain consent she must hear the words: "I consent to you speaking to me about abortion." (Trans. I, at 45:1-3).
28. Officer Alexander advised Brown that she is not allowed to do anything within fifteen feet of the entrance of the abortion facility, and that she could not stand in the fifteen-foot buffer zone or be there at all. (Docket No. 50, at 6 ¶¶ 46-47).
29. Officer Alexander also stated that he did not want Brown to chase people down the street. (Id. at ¶ 48).
31. According to Brown, Officer Alexander stated that Brown could hand the literature out in front of a pornography shop. However, Officer Alexander took the leaflets with him when he left. (Trans. I, at 37:9-25, 40:22-25). Officer Alexander does not recount these facts in the same fashion; in particular, he did not recall Brown handing him the flyers (Pls. Exh. 2 and 3) that day. (Trans. I, at 78:6-24). According to the Officer, he stated that anyone could hand out literature of any kind so long as doing so complied with the Ordinance. (Id. at 78:25, 79:1-3). The Officer stated that he did not closely examine or read the contents of any leaflet nor did he intentionally prohibit distribution of one type of literature in lieu of another type. (Id. at p. 80: 2-23).
32. A pornography shop is located within the restricted one hundred-foot zone from the entrance door to Planned Parenthood on Liberty Avenue. (Docket. No. 50, at 6 ¶ 54; Pls. Exh. 5).
33. Officer Alexander told Brown that because there is an Ordinance now, he has to enforce it. (Id. at ¶ 55). According to Brown, Officer Alexander ordered: "Don't make me have to come back here again." (Id. at ¶ 56). However, Officer Alexander does not recall making that statement. (Trans. I, at 75:1-4, 11-13, 80:2-6, 21-23). He did not arrest or cite her for violating the Ordinance. (Docket. No. 49, at 8 ¶ 48-49). Indeed, Officer Alexander did not recall speaking with Brown specifically on the day he was called out to the clinic. (Trans. I, at 75:14-17, 80:7-10).
34. Brown claims that she understood Officer Alexander's warning to mean that she would be cited for violating the Ordinance if she engaged in sidewalk counseling and leafleting opposing abortion in the restricted areas outside abortion facilities. (Docket No. 50, at 7 ¶ 58).
35. Under the Ordinance, Brown understands that she is subject to arrest, detention, fine, and punishment. (Id. at ¶ 59).
36. Brown complied with Officer Alexander's orders and stopped engaging in sidewalk counseling and leafleting opposing abortion in the restricted areas. (Id. at ¶ 60).
37. According to Officer Alexander, it is common practice in the department that an officer would have to personally witness a violation before he would enforce an ordinance. (Id. at ¶ 62; Trans. I, at 56:18, 57:9).
38. Officer Alexander testified that under the Ordinance, someone within the one hundred-foot zone would not have to obtain permission from Brown to approach in order to speak to Brown. A person would only have to obtain permission from the person they are approaching in order to speak with him or her within a certain distance. (Docket. No. 50, at 7 ¶ 64; Trans. I, at 67:8-11).
39. Officer Alexander testified that one way for Brown to receive consent under the Ordinance would be to state the following: "I'm an activist, can I speak to you." (Trans. I, at 67:19-21).
Additional Incidents of Enforcement or Lack of Enforcement
40. According to Brown, following the enactment of the Ordinance, employees and escorts at the health facilities have opposed
41. The clinics employ staff members and escorts to assist patients to and from the facilities. Neither clinic staff nor escorts are employees or agents of the City. (Docket No. 49, at 10 ¶¶ 64-65; Id. at 11 ¶¶ 79-80).
42. According to Brown, these escorts run between her and the women with whom she attempts to speak outside the facilities. (Docket No. 50, at 8 ¶ 80). In addition, escorts follow Brown around with a camera and approach within one foot of her to take a picture in her face. (Id. at 9 ¶ 80).
43. Health facility employees instruct women on the street waiting to enter the clinics by stating: "Back up eight feet." Brown contends that these directives frustrate her attempt to obtain consent from the waiting women. (Id. at ¶ 81).
44. Brown also contends that the City of Pittsburgh and its Bureau of Police have not prohibited facility employees from engaging in speech activities in favor of abortion, or have not otherwise enforced the Ordinance against the employees. (Id. at ¶ 82). However, the police have not witnessed these events involving the facilities' employees nor were they called to the scene by the protestors or the facilities involved. (Docket No. 49, at 9 ¶ 55-56; at 10 ¶¶ 66-68).
45. According to Brown, on Saturdays when an allegedly high number of abortions occur, two to four health facility escorts stand at each end of the sidewalk at the start of the restricted one hundred foot zone from entrance doors, and another escort stands in the restricted fifteen foot zone near the entrance. (Docket No. 50, at 9 ¶ 84).
46. Brown states that facility escorts stand within the fifteen foot zone and scream at Brown and call her a liar and tell her that she does not know what she is talking about with respect to the subject matter of Brown's speech. Moreover, the escorts proclaim that abortion is not dangerous for women, that Brown has no right to tell women that it is dangerous, and tell Brown to back off. When Brown is within the restricted one hundred foot zone, yet outside the fifteen foot buffer zone, abortion facility escorts yell: "Back up, back up," even though she is standing in place waiting for a woman to walk by or is walking alongside a woman who has appeared to consent to Brown approaching within eight feet of her. (Id. at ¶¶ 85, 88, 90).
47. Because the facility escorts surround women in the restricted areas and walk them into the abortion facility, Brown claims that she has been prevented from getting close enough to obtain consent to approach the women. (Id. at ¶ 88).
48. On numerous occasions, facility escorts have allegedly forbidden Brown to speak to women entering the facility. Facility
49. Facility escorts tell the women to ignore Brown, that she is lying, and that Brown is not there to help them. According to Brown, even when women declined to proceed with medical services, the escorts physically turned the women around and forced them into the clinic. (Id. at 9 ¶ 90, at 10 ¶ 91; Trans. I, at 26:21-25).
50. Facility escorts have never asked Brown or any women at the facilities for permission to approach before they do so. (Docket No. 50, at 10 ¶ 92; Trans. I, at 27:14-24).
51. Brown contends that the police have not enforced the Ordinance against the clinic workers at these times when they are engaging in these activities. However, the police have not witnessed these events nor were they called to the scene. (Docket No. 50, at 10 ¶ 93; Docket No. 49, at 9 ¶¶ 55-56, at 10 ¶¶ 66-67).
52. Brown claims that the threat of arrest, detention, fine, and punishment for violating the Ordinance has caused her to be deterred and chilled in the exercise of her speech. (Docket No. 50, at 10 ¶ 94).
53. Prior to the enactment of the Ordinance, within what is now the one hundred foot zone, Brown would approach women, walk along side them, offer them literature, explain the dangers of abortion, and offer help. (Id. at ¶ 95).
54. Brown chose this type of method because she believes it is the most effective. She claims that this method fosters a close, personal, loving, compassionate, and empathetic relationship with the women she addresses. Brown would also stand within what is now the fifteen foot zone and would be able to speak with women coming from all directions. Brown would approach them and offer them literature, explain the dangers of abortion, offer them help, assistance, and alternatives. Brown contends that she would never yell, use amplification, block, push, shove, or engage in other violent behavior. (Id. at ¶¶ 96-100).
55. Under the Ordinance, if consent is not first obtained by Brown, the distance between Brown and those whom she wants to approach in order to counsel individuals and hand out leaflets is limited. (Id. at ¶ 101).
56. From outside the restricted areas, Brown states that she would attempt to determine which individuals intend to enter the health facility based on physical characteristics such as sex, age, and dress. (Id. at ¶ 103).
57. Outside the restricted areas, Brown claims that she does not know whether an individual or couple will enter a facility, a neighboring business, or simply pass by. (Id. at 11 ¶ 104).
58. Brown stated that, on numerous occasions, she would misjudge whether an individual or couple intended to enter a facility and thus would lose the opportunity to engage in speech with them because they had entered the restricted area. (Id. at ¶ 105).
59. Brown has seen people whom she did not think were going into the clinic until they entered the fifteen foot zone; then, she was unable to speak with them. (Id. at ¶ 106).
60. Brown has also spoken to those whom she thought were going into the clinic and they did not. (Id. at ¶ 107).
61. Because people rarely walk on the edge of a sidewalk, Brown claims that the
62. Brown claims that the eight foot bubble zone limits her from speaking with people, as she has for fifteen years, as they walk through the entire one hundred foot restricted area. (Id. at ¶ 109).
63. Brown contends that she is now limited in her ability to speak with women when attempting to comply with the eight foot floating zone. (Id. at ¶ 110).
64. Attempting to maintain the eight foot zone forces Brown to either: (1) try and run backwards so that she is in front of a woman with whom she is trying to speak and make eye contact while also trying to avoid trees, garbage cans, poles, electric boxes, or pedestrians; (2) run alongside which causes her to be pushed into the street; or (3) run behind women with two or three escorts in between and trying to make herself heard over the traffic, noise, and the pedestrians. (Id. at ¶ 111).
65. Brown claims that she is also unable to distribute flyers while attempting to maintain the eight foot separation. (Id. at ¶ 112). Brown faces difficulty in getting close enough to the women to offer literature, especially as she avoids hitting objects. (Id. at ¶ 113). In the one or two seconds as people walk by, since she cannot approach anyone, Brown claims she is unable to hand out leaflets. (Id. at ¶ 114). When Brown is passing out leaflets and standing in place to comply with the "no approach" prohibition, she claims that no one has ever approached her to take a leaflet from her. (Id. at ¶ 115). Most people do not walk right next to Brown, but rather move several feet away, which makes it impossible to hand them a leaflet without approaching them. (Id. at 12 ¶ 115-116).
66. When engaged in sidewalk counseling and leafleting, Brown chooses to speak in a normal conversational tone. (Id. at 13 ¶ 128).
67. During the week days, buses go by almost continuously early in the morning until 9:30 or 10:00 a.m., at which time the frequency of the buses somewhat lessens, but the bus traffic does not stop. (Id. at ¶ 131). However, the bus traffic on Saturdays, when Brown claims a lot of women go to the clinic, is considerably less.
68. There are also many pedestrians early in the morning. (Id. at ¶ 132).
69. At eight feet away, Brown contends that it is difficult for her to speak with individuals entering the facilities and thus she is forced to yell. The women are not able to hear her over the background noise even if she tries yelling. (Id. at ¶ 134).
70. Brown chooses not to use any amplification or yelling because she believes, based on her experiences, that it is not helpful. In her view, it is not conducive to reaching women with her message and she believes it scares them and turns them off to her message. (Id. at ¶ 135).
71. Because the Ordinance allegedly limits Brown's ability to speak to individuals in the restricted areas, she asserts that she must either yell at people from a distance of eight feet or speak personally for
72. The Ordinance limits her from peacefully speaking to women, both outside and entering these facilities, by requiring her to stay outside the fifteen foot buffer zone and the eight foot bubble zone around a moving individual. (Docket No. 50, at 14 ¶ 141).
Facts Particular to Planned Parenthood in Downtown Pittsburgh
73. The sidewalk in front of Planned Parenthood is approximately 12 to 13 feet wide. (Id. at ¶ 142; Pls. Exh. 5). The Planned Parenthood facility is located at 933 Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA, 15222.
74. The fifteen foot fixed zone extends several feet into the street. (Id. at ¶ 143; Pls. Exh. 5-5).
75. Within the one hundred foot zone on the same side of the street as Planned Parenthood, there are several businesses abutting the sidewalk, including a museum, a bar/nightclub, two restaurants, a theater, and a pornography store.
76. The one hundred foot zone across the street from Planned Parenthood includes the entire street and a portion of the sidewalk which abuts a deli and another street. (Id. at ¶ 145; Pls. Exh. 5).
77. Because these health facilities are located along busy downtown streets, Brown claims that she cannot be heard at a normal conversational tone when standing at a distance of eight feet from individuals or fifteen feet from any facility entrance due to the background noise from buses and other vehicles, commercial activity, and pedestrians in the area. (Id. at ¶ 146; Pls. Exh. 5).
78. Brown contends that it is busier and noisier, due to bus and pedestrian traffic, between 7:00 and 8:00 a.m., which she claims is when most of the women are going into the clinic and when she is present. (Id. at 15 ¶ 147; Pls. Exh. 5 and 8).
Facts Particular to Allegheny Reproductive Health Center in East Liberty
79. Allegheny Reproductive Health Center is located at 200 North Highland Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15206. Within the one hundred foot zone on the same side of the street as the clinic are a child day care
80. The one hundred foot zone includes the entire street, the sidewalk, and several businesses abutting the sidewalk, such as a bar/lounge, an American Legion, a barber shop, and a clothes shop.
81. Public parking is permitted within the one hundred foot zone along the side of the street of the facility. (Id. at ¶ 152; Pls. Exh. 7).
82. Prior to the Ordinance, Brown would often speak to women who have lined up, according to clinic procedure, outside the facility waiting for an abortion. Brown would walk up to them and offer them literature, talk to them, and offer them help. (Id. at ¶ 153-54).
83 On or about June 15, 2006, Brown stood outside the fifteen foot restricted area at this facility to engage in sidewalk counseling and leafleting. (Id. at 16 ¶ 158). Brown spoke with a young woman (about fourteen years old) who was standing outside the abortion facility waiting to be admitted for an abortion. (Id. at ¶ 159).
84. Brown perceived that the young woman willingly listened to her speak about the physical dangers of abortion as well as the help that was available to her. (Id. at ¶ 160). When the young woman's boyfriend said, "Babe, we don't want to hear this," the young woman and her boyfriend proceeded toward the entrance of the medical services facility. (Id. at ¶ 161). Neither was employed by or acting under the authority of the City. (Docket No. 49, at 9 ¶ 57).
85. City police were neither present nor called to the scene of this encounter. (Id. at ¶ 55-56).
86. The noise volume represented on the video (Pls.Exh. 8), which was taken at around noon at Allegheny Reproductive clinic, was at a time of the day when less noise was occurring than when Brown is outside the clinic. (Docket No. 50, at 16 ¶ 164).
87. There is more traffic early in the morning with people going to work between 7:00 and 9:00 a.m., which is also when Brown believes that most women are going for abortions and when Brown is out at the clinic.
88. Brown testified that during the first week of September of 2006 she was again standing in front of Allegheny Reproductive Health Center outside the fifteen foot zone and tried to hand a woman literature and speak to her. (Id. at ¶ 167).
89. A clinic escort who was standing inside the fifteen foot zone allegedly hit Brown's hand when she was attempting to give the flyer to the woman, and the escort screamed in Brown's face, that she had to back up and get away. (Id. at 17 ¶ 168).
90. Brown claims that the escort then put her arm around the woman who was heading towards the clinic entrance and told her to ignore Brown. (Id. at ¶ 169).
91. It is contended that a police officer, not identified by Brown, was present but did not enforce the Ordinance's consent and distance requirements against the clinic
92. Brown contends that the City of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police do not prohibit the facility escorts from engaging in "oral protest" in favor of abortion, and otherwise fail to enforce the Ordinance against the escorts. (Docket No. 50, at 8 ¶ 79). Once again, the police did not personally witness this event involving Brown and the facility escorts. (Docket No. 49, at 11 ¶ 74).
Facts Particular to Allegheny Women's Center in the Consad Building in East Liberty
93. The Allegheny Women's Center is located on the second floor of the Consad building located at 121 North Highland Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15206. Other businesses are located within the Consad building. (Docket No. 50, at 17 ¶ 172-73; Pls. Exh. 6).
94. The sidewalk in front of Allegheny Women's Health Center is approximately ten feet wide. (Id. at ¶ 174; Pls. Exh. 6).
95. The fifteen foot zone extends five feet out into the street. Within the fifteen foot zone there is a pizza shop that is located next door to the clinic. Cars park within the five feet that extends into the street. (Id. at ¶ 175-77; Pls. Exh. 6).
96. Many businesses are within the one hundred foot zone on the same side of the street as the clinic, including a pizza shop, an insurance store, and a check-cashing store.
97. The one hundred foot zone also includes the entire street, the sidewalk across the street, and several businesses abutting the sidewalk such as a fitness center, a fast food restaurant, and an American Legion. (Id. at ¶ 179; Pls. Exh. 6).
98. Throughout the entirety of Brown's sworn testimony, including her multiple affidavits and her testimony given on September 21, 2006, Brown has not presented any evidence that the noise level at the two East Liberty facilities would impede her ability to deliver her message within the parameters of the Ordinance. Therefore, the only issue regarding noise relates to the noise levels at the downtown medical service facility. The noise downtown is created by routine traffic noises, buses, cars and pedestrians. (See Pls. Exh. 8). The City Defendants contend that the City does not create or control the level of street noises as to vehicle and pedestrian traffic.
99. Brown has produced evidence of only two instances where the City has been involved in the enforcement of the Ordinance against her. (Docket No. 50, at 5 ¶¶ 41-43; at 8 ¶¶ 76-77). However, the parties dispute the factual basis of these
100. At the time of the incidents alleged by Brown, the Pittsburgh City Police Officers had little or no training with regard to the Ordinance. (Transcript of Oral Argument held on December 19, 2007, at 17:9-15 (hereinafter, "Trans.II")). The officers patrolling the zones, where the health facilities at issue are located, were told by their commanding officer to memorize the Ordinance and its terms. (Id.). At the time of the incidents of which Brown complains, the City Police Officers had not yet received formal training from the Pittsburgh City Law Department. (Id.).
101. Under the Ordinance, Brown is not prohibited from handing out leaflets, carrying signs, or speaking to her intended audiences. The Ordinance does not place restrictions on the number, size, text, or content of signs. (Docket No. 49, at 14 ¶¶ 98-99).
102. Outside the fifteen foot buffer zone, Brown may otherwise stand in the path of oncoming pedestrians to offer literature or counseling and she is not required to move out of their way as they approach her. (Id. at ¶ 100; Ordinance).
103. The Ordinance places no restrictions on the number of speakers and allows conversations to occur at a distance of eight feet. Brown may approach intended listeners if they consent to her approach. Prior to engaging in conversations or providing intended listeners with leaflets or literature, Brown only needs to ask for consent. (Docket No. 49, at 14 ¶¶ 101-102).
104. There is a knowing requirement included in the Ordinance to prevent protesters from inadvertently violating the law. (Id. at ¶ 104).
105. Since the enactment of the Ordinance, Brown is still able to speak with women outside these facilities and she had not been arrested or fined before the filing of the instant action. (Id. at ¶ 106).
106. To this Court's knowledge, Brown has never been arrested or fined for a violation of the Ordinance. Defendants provided notice to the Court, by letter dated December 12, 2007,
107. Brown initially alleged that she was unable to continue in her activities at the health facilities because of the Ordinance. (Docket No. 50, at 7 ¶ 60). However, during oral arguments on December 19, 2007, it was represented to this Court that Brown has been able to continue in her protest activities during the pendency of this lawsuit. (Trans. II, at 67:15-20).
108. Brown, according to her description of her activities, including running alongside women she believes to be patients, is classified as a protester. Therefore, her conduct can be viewed as an obstacle to women seeking access to reproductive health facilities. (Docket No. 49, at 16 ¶¶ 120-21).
109. To the present day, Brown continues to engage in protest activities at the described Pittsburgh facilities. (Trans. II, at 67:15-20).
III. Brown's Arguments
In support of her motion for preliminary injunction, Brown has brought an as applied challenge to the Ordinance claiming that it was enforced in a content-based manner, thus susceptible to strict scrutiny analysis. (Docket No. 23, at 13). Brown contends that the regulation fails strict scrutiny because (1) it is not narrowly tailored, (2) burdens more speech than necessary, and (3) fails to leave open ample alternatives of communication. (Id. at 21-22). Additionally, she argues that the Ordinance fails to further the City's purported interests. (Id. at 16-17). Within her as applied challenge, Brown claims that the enforcement of the Ordinance against her violates her rights pursuant to the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment, and the Pennsylvania RFPA. (Docket No. 23).
As noted, Brown has not raised a facial challenge to the Ordinance within her motion seeking injunctive relief. (Docket No. 22). However, she has raised a facial challenge in her Verified Complaint, (Docket No. 1, at 7 ¶ 3, hereinafter "Complaint"). Furthermore, her proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law relate to her inability to understand the Ordinance because she contends it is overbroad and vague. (Docket No. 50, at 4-5 ¶¶ 30-36, 38-40; at 6-7, ¶¶ 22-23). The parties dispute the facts surrounding the two incidents in which the City Police enforced the Ordinance against Brown in an alleged discriminatory manner. Brown solely relies upon the facts as stated herein regarding Officer Alexander's alleged discriminatory enforcement for her as applied challenge. However, even though her evidence of the City's alleged discriminatory enforcement is inadequate and disputed, it does not defeat her as applied challenge. Foti v. City of Menlo Park,
The Court will first address the facial constitutionality of the Ordinance because if the regulation is found to be facially invalid, we need not address Brown's as applied arguments.
IV. Statutory Construction of the Ordinance
In order for the Court to determine the scope of the Ordinance at issue in the context of a facial challenge, pertinent Pennsylvania statutory construction must be applied. To entertain that analysis, the Court will first evaluate the source of the Defendant City's power in making the subject Ordinance.
A. Municipal Powers
In order to fully determine the nature of Ordinance No. 49, the Court first must consider the source of the Defendant City of Pittsburgh's municipal power in enacting the Ordinance and the limitations imposed on that power. As noted, the Defendant
B. Rules of Construction and Interpretation
The Court must also follow Pennsylvania law, with its established rules of statutory construction, to ascertain the meaning of the Ordinance. See e.g., Algrant v. Evergreen Valley Nurseries Ltd. Pshp.,
The goal of interpretation and construction of the Ordinance is to ascertain and effectuate the intent of the law as expressed in its language. 1 PA. CONS.STAT. § 1921(a) (2007); Panik v. Didra,
With respect to municipal ordinances, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has specifically stated that the language used in such ordinances must be considered in the sense which harmonizes with, and gives effect to, the subject matter, general purpose and object sought to be achieved. Cloverleaf Trailer Sales Co. v. Pleasant Hills,
In ascertaining the legislative intent of an ordinance, there are certain presumptions that may be applied. First, it is presumed that the legislators, or council members, do not intend to violate the Constitution of the United States or of this Commonwealth. See 1 PA. CONS.STAT. § 1922(3) (2007); Combs, 468 F.Supp.2d at 768. Secondly, it is presumed that the legislators intend to favor the public interest as against any private interest. 1 PA CONS.STAT. § 1922(5) (2007); Combs, 468 F.Supp.2d at 768. Third, there is a strong presumption in favor of the constitutionality of legislative acts, including municipal legislation. 1 PA CONS.STAT. § 1922(5). Fourth, the title of the law may also be considered in the construction and any other title, part, article, chapter, section or other division may be used to aid in construction. 1 PA. CONS.STAT. § 1924 (2007). Lastly, but importantly, the Court notes that the Ordinance at issue is to be liberally construed as to effectuate its objects and to promote justice. 1 PA. CONS.STAT. § 1928(c) (2007).
C. Pertinent Statutory Background
Given the background of this suit, this Court must next examine the City Defendants' Ordinance in light of the pertinent statutory background in the areas of abortion and women's health and treatment at the time of its enactment. To that end, this Court notes that the federal government has sought to protect the privacy of health information and health care delivery. See 29 U.S.C. §§ 1181-82 (1996). This Court further notes that Pennsylvania provides privacy protection to patients seeking health care through various statutes. See 50 P.S. § 7111 (1996) (protects the disclosure of records for patients being treated for mental illness); 42 PA. CONS. STAT. § 5944 (1989) (a psychotherapist or psychologist is prohibited from disclosing confidential communications); 42 PA. CONS. STAT. § 5929 (1995) (a physician is required to protect from disclosure communications received during a consultation for treatment or diagnosis); 42 PA CONS.STAT. § 5945.1 (2000) (all communications between a sexual assault counselor and a victim, counselor, and/or co-participant are confidential); 42 PA. CONS.STAT. § 6155 (1998) (a patient's medical records are generally protected from compelled disclosure).
The federal government has also made it a crime to intentionally injure or use force by physically obstructing the access to reproductive health facilities. See 18 U.S.C. § 248 (1994) (Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances, hereafter "FACE"). FACE also provides for civil rights actions and remedies for persons aggrieved by reason of conduct prohibited by the criminal section of the statute. See 18 U.S.C. § 248(c) (1994).
In addition, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania passed the Abortion Control Act, 18 PA. CONS.STAT. § 3201, et seq. (1989), which provides the statutory framework governing abortion in the Commonwealth.
V. The Impact of Hill v. Colorado
The challenged Section 623.03 of the Ordinance directly parallels the section of the Colorado statute that was held to be facially constitutional by the Supreme Court in Hill v. Colorado,
The following factors must be present before a prior decision has stare decisis effect:
3-30 MOORE'S MANUAL-FEDERAL PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE § 30.11, (2007); (citing City of Erie v. Pap's AM.,
The holding in Hill v. Colorado constituted a majority of the Court. See Hill, 530 U.S. at 705, 120 S.Ct. 2480 (6-3 decision). The decision of Hill resolved the issue of whether Colorado's law, COLO.REV. STAT. § 18-9-122(3), was a constitutional speech-related restriction. Id. at 703, 120 S.Ct. 2480. As discussed infra, the Ordinance at issue here and Colorado's statute are the same in content and both the City of Pittsburgh and Colorado passed these
In upholding the Colorado statute in Hill, the Supreme Court made numerous pronouncements that influence this Court's decision on the present matter. The Supreme Court held that even though the Colorado statute singled out "oral protest, education, [and] counseling," it was content-neutral because this "denoted a broad category of speech rather than specifying a particular subject matter or viewpoint." Hill, 530 U.S. at 724-725, 120 S.Ct. 2480; see also McGuire v. Reilly,
Hill bears on this case because Section 623.03 of the Ordinance is nearly a verbatim copy of the language of the Colorado statute. The two laws read as follows:
City of Pittsburgh Ordinance No. 49 Colorado's StatuteNo person shall knowingly approach another No person shall knowingly approach another person within eight feet (8') of such person, person within eight feet of such person, unless unless such other person consents, for the such other person consents, for the purpose purpose of passing a leaflet or handbill to, of passing a leaflet or handbill to, displaying displaying a sign to, or engaging in oral a sign to, or engaging in oral protest, protest, education or counseling with such education, or counseling with such other person other person in the public way or sidewalk in the public way or sidewalk area within area within a radius of one hundred feet a radius of one hundred feet from any entrance (100') from any entrance door to a hospital door to a health care facility. and/or medical office/clinic. Ordinance, Section 623.03 COLO.REV.STAT. § 18-9-122(3) (2007).
Section 623.01 of the Ordinance, providing for the intent of the Defendant City Council, also bears a strong resemblanceb to the intent section of the Colorado law. The two intent sections of the laws read as follows:
City of Pittsburgh Ordinance No. 49 Colorado's StatuteThe City Council recognizes that access to The general assembly recognizes that access Health Care Facilities for the purpose of to health care facilities for the purpose of obtaining medical counseling and treatment obtaining medical counseling and treatment is important for residents and visitors to the is imperative for the citizens of this state; City. The exercise of a person's right to that the exercise of a person's right to protest protest or counsel against certain medical or counsel against certain medical procedures procedures is a First Amendment activity must be balanced against another person's that must be balances against another person's right to obtain medical counseling and right to obtain medical counseling and treatment in an unobstructed manner; and treatment in an unobstructed manner; and that preventing the willful obstruction of a the City of Pittsburgh Bureau of Police has person's access to medical counseling and been consistently called upon in at least two treatment at a health care facility is a matter
locations within the City to mediate disputes of statewide concern. The general assembly between those seeking medical counseling therefore declares that it is appropriate to and treatment and those who would counsel enact legislation that prohibits a person from against their actions so as to (i) avoid violent knowingly obstructing another person's entry confrontations which would lead to to or exit from a health care facility. criminal charges and (ii) enforce existing City Ordinances which regulate the use of public sidewalks and other conduct; such services require a dedicated and indefinite appropriation of policing services, which is being provided to the neglect of the law enforcement needs of the Zones in which these facilities exist. The City seeks a more efficient and wide deployment of its services which will help reduce the risk of violence and provide unobstructed access to Health Care Facilities by setting clear guidelines for activity in the immediate vicinity of the entrances to Health Care Facilities. Ordinance, Section 623.01 Colo.Rev.Stat. § 18-9-122(1)
There are three key similarities: (1) the protections of both the Colorado law and the presently challenged Ordinance apply to all health care facilities; (2) both laws specify an 100-foot radius around all covered facilities; and (3) both laws prohibit unwanted approaches within eight feet of anyone inside the specified area. COLO. REV.STAT. § 18-9-122(1), (3) (2007); and Ordinance §§ 623.01, 623.03. Similar to the instant Ordinance, the statute in Hill did not require a standing speaker to move away from anyone passing by. Additionally, both regulations do not place any restriction on the content of any message that a speaker may wish to communicate, either inside or outside the designated areas.
In Hill, the Supreme Court began its analysis by evaluating the competing interests of the parties. The Court determined that the legislative history made it clear that the activity of protestors at health care facilities, that offered abortion services amongst other services, was the primary reason for the law. Hill, 530 U.S. at 714, 120 S.Ct. 2480. The activities of the protestors in handing out leaflets, displaying signs, and orally communicating were First Amendment protected activities. Id. at 715, 120 S.Ct. 2480. The fact that the intended message of those communications maybe offensive to listeners does not take away their constitutional protection. Id.
However, the Supreme Court proclaimed that it is the traditional exercise of a state's police power "to protect the health and safety of their citizens." Id. (quoting Medtronic, Inc. v. Lohr,
In conducting an interest analysis, the Court recognized "the significant difference between the state restrictions on a speaker's right to address a willing audience and those that protect listeners from unwanted communication." Hill, 530 U.S. at 715-16, 120 S.Ct. 2480. Both the Colorado statute and the subject Ordinance deal only with the latter. Id. at 716, 120 S.Ct. 2480. The Court noted that there is a recognizable privacy interest in avoiding unwanted messages but that privacy interest varies in different settings. Id. Specifically, the Court held that in the setting of a medical facility, "the First Amendment does not demand that patients ... undertake Herculean efforts to escape the cacophony of political protests." Id. (quoting Madsen v. Women's Health Center, Inc.,
The Court next considered whether or not the statute was content-neutral. This inquiry is important in First Amendment challenges because it determines which level of scrutiny applies.. If a statute is content-based it is presumptively invalid and can only be upheld if it survives strict scrutiny. If a statute is content-neutral, it is evaluated under the "time, place, or manner test" set forth by the Supreme Court in Ward v. Rock Against Racism,
The Supreme Court determined that the Colorado law was content-neutral, thus subject to the time, place, or manner test. Hill, 530 U.S. at 719-20, 120 S.Ct. 2480. In reaching this conclusion, the Court found:
Id. The Court went on to note that "[i]nstead of drawing distinctions based on the subject that the approaching speaker may wish to address, the statute applies equally to used car salesman, animal rights activists, fundraisers, environmentalists, and missionaries." Id. at 723, 120 S.Ct. 2480.
The Court then applied the time, place, and manner test in concluding that the statute was valid under the test applied in Ward because it was narrowly tailored. Hill, 530 U.S. at 725, 120 S.Ct. 2480. The Court found that the statute served significant and legitimate governmental interests and was narrowly tailored to serve those interests while leaving open ample alternatives
The effect on the ability of a protestor to distribute handbills and leaflets was more scrutinized by the Court because "it seem[ed] possible" that an eight foot interval could burden the ability of a protestor to hand out literature to unwilling recipients. Id. In response to this concern, the Court held that the statute "does not ... prevent a leafletter from simply standing near the path of oncoming pedestrians and proffering his or her material, which the pedestrians can easily accept." Hill, 530 U.S. at 727, 120 S.Ct. 2480.
The Court then stated that it "`must, of course, take account of the place to which the regulations apply in determining whether these restrictions burden more speech than necessary.'" Id. at 728, 120 S.Ct. 2480 (quoting Madsen, 512 U.S. at 772, 114 S.Ct. 2516). Additionally, it "noted the unique concerns that surround health care facilities" because hospital and clinics are where people are treated and where patients are often "`under emotional strain and worry, where pleasing and comforting patients are principal facets of the day's activity,'" thus they "`need a restful, uncluttered, relaxing, and helpful atmosphere.'" Hill, 530 U.S. at 728, 120 S.Ct. 2480 (quoting NLRB v. Baptist Hosp., Inc.,
Hill, 530 U.S. at 729, 120 S.Ct. 2480. Accordingly, the Court found the statute to be reasonable and narrowly tailored:
Id. at 729-30, 120 S.Ct. 2480 (citations omitted).
The Court interprets the Ordinance's language according to its common usage. Thus, in the Court's estimation, the language requiring consent means that a person must first get permission from another before approaching to hand out literature or engage in oral protest. Additionally, the statements made by City Council members during the legislative process further support their stated intent to provide additional safety measures to all individuals on the sidewalks outside the health care facilities. In construing the intent of the Ordinance, the Court may consider this evidence as part of the legislative history. Hampton, 935 F.2d at 591.
The Court finds the Ordinance to be reasonable in light of the purposes it intends to serve, i.e., to provide for the safe and unobstructed access to health care facilities and to promote a more efficient use of the City Police. In reaching its decision, the Court has placed the Ordinance's stated purposes in the balance with other laws protecting the right to be let alone. The City Defendants' Ordinance is reasonable when construed in conjunction with federal and Pennsylvania law concerning the privacy of health information and health care delivery.
VI. First Amendment Facial Challenge
Brown has made a facial challenge to the Ordinance, arguing that the Ordinance is an invalid time, place, and manner regulation, an unconstitutional prior restraint on speech and violative of the principles of vagueness and overbreadth. (Docket No. 1, at 12 ¶¶ 73-76, at 13 ¶¶ 79-83, at ¶¶ 88, 92-93; Docket No. 23, at 10, 14, 18-19). It is not disputed that Brown's leafleting and speaking with members of the public in the traditional public forum are constitutionally protected activities. See Hill v. Colorado,
We will begin by considering the competing interests of the parties. Brown's First Amendment rights in counseling, leafleting, and orally communicating are clear and undisputed. The fact that the intended message of the Plaintiffs communications maybe offensive to listeners does not take away their constitutional protection. Hill, 530 U.S. at 715, 120 S.Ct. 2480. The minutes of the City Council's open public meetings in addition to the City's stated intended interests explained in Section 623.01 of the Ordinance make it clear that the activity of the protestors at the facilities was one of the primary reasons for the Ordinance. (See Ordinance, Section 623.01).
The Supreme Court has held that it is a proper traditional exercise of state police power to protect the health and safety of their citizens. Hill, 530 U.S. at 715, 120 S.Ct. 2480 (citing Medtronic, Inc. v. Lohr,
The level of scrutiny used to test the validity of the challenged Ordinance depends on whether the Ordinance provides restrictions that are "justified without reference to content ... that they are narrowly tailored to serve a significant government interest, and that they leave open ample alternative channels for communication of the information." Ward 491 U.S. at 791, 109 S.Ct. 2746 (quoting Clark v. Cmty. for Creative Non-Violence,
Alternatively, when a law regulates speech based upon prohibited content, it must pass strict scrutiny muster to be upheld, therefore it must be narrowly tailored to achieve a compelling governmental interest. Perry Educ. Ass'n v. Perry Local Educators' Ass'n,
It is undisputed that Brown's speech activity is constitutionally protected, thus the question within this facial determination
"The principal inquiry in determining content neutrality, in speech cases generally and in time, place, or manner cases in particular, is whether the government has adopted a regulation of speech because of disagreement with the message it conveys." Hill, 530 U.S. at 719, 120 S.Ct. 2480 (quoting Ward, 491 U.S. at 791, 109 S.Ct. 2746). The controlling consideration is the government's purpose. Ward, 491 U.S. at 791, 109 S.Ct. 2746. "A statute or regulation that serves purposes and goals unrelated to the content of expression is deemed neutral, even if it has an incidental effect on some speakers or message but not others." Id. "Government regulation of expressive activity is content neutral so long as it is `justified without reference to the content of the regulated speech.'" Id. (quoting Clark v. Cmty. for Creative Non-Violence,
The present Ordinance is not a regulation of speech, rather it is a regulation of the places where speech may occur. The clear intent behind the Ordinance is to provide patients with "unimpeded access to medical services while ensuring that the First Amendment rights of demonstrators to communicate their message to their intended audience is not impaired." (Ordinance, Section 623.01). Additionally, the Ordinance was enacted to promote "a more efficient and wide deployment" of its police services to reduce the risk of violence. Id. Similar to the Colorado statute, it was not enacted "because of disagreement with the message it conveys." Hill, 530 U.S. at 719-20, 120 S.Ct. 2480 (quoting Ward, 491 U.S. at 791, 109 S.Ct. 2746). The law's restrictions apply equally to all protestors, regardless of their message, and it makes no reference to the content of speech. Id. (citing Madsen, 512 U.S. at 762-63, 114 S.Ct. 2516). The City's intent is to protect the access and privacy of the City's health care facilities, while providing the police with clear guidelines to follow when enforcing the ordinance, which are unrelated to the content of the protestors' speech. The City Defendants' Ordinance does not authorize the Mayor or his designees to pass judgment on the content of speech. None of the grounds for enacting and enforcing the Ordinance involve an assessment of what that speaker may say. (See Ordinance, Section 623.01). Furthermore, the Pittsburgh City Police Commander has stated that City Police can lawfully enforce the Ordinance. (Docket No. 49-2, at 50-52). Thus, this Court finds that the Ordinance applies equally to all speech and is a content-neutral regulation. As a result, the Ordinance is subject to the time, place and manner test.
"A regulation of the time, place, or manner of protected speech must be narrowly tailored to serve the government's legitimate, content-neutral interests," however it need not be the least restrictive or least intrusive means of doing so. Ward, 491 U.S. at 798, 109 S.Ct. 2746. The regulation must also leave open ample alternative avenues of communication. Hill, 530 U.S. at 729-30, 120 S.Ct. 2480. In evaluating a facial challenge, the Court will consider the City's "authoritative constructions of the [O]rdinance, including its own implementation and interpretation of it." Arietta v. City of Allentown, No. Civ. A. 04-226, 2004 WL 1774623, at *8 (E.D.Pa. 2004) (citing Forsyth Cty. v. Nationalist Movement,
The Ordinance makes it unlawful, absent consent, to "knowingly approach within
The Court concludes that the Ordinance's stated goals justify its specific application to activities at or near reproductive health facilities in the City of Pittsburgh. The City Council, faced with apparently serious public safety problems at or near these clinics, dealt with potential protesting on a strictly objective basis. (See Docket No. 49-2 and Docket No. 49-3, Public Hearing Minutes from December 7, 2005 and December 13, 2005, respectively). It analyzed the evidence, promulgated by investigation, which showed that protestors outside these facilities can be especially aggressive and, therefore, patients are extremely vulnerable as they enter or leave these faculties. (Docket No. 49-2, at 12-14, 18, 20-21, 35, 38-39, 43, 49, 53-54, 60; Docket No. 49-3, at 13, 15, 19). The legislative history of the Ordinance does not speak to abortion per se, but to the violent confrontations and particular vulnerability of patients leaving and entering the facilities while facing hostile environments. Id.
The Supreme Court has recognized a government's interest in protecting citizens from unwarranted or unsolicited communications. See e.g., Frisby v. Schultz,
Furthermore, the federal government has recognized the importance of protecting the privacy of individuals seeking access to reproductive health facilities. See 18 U.S.C. § 248 (1994) (FACE). Under FACE, it is a crime to intentionally injure or use physical force to obstruct the access to reproductive health facilities. Id. The act also permits a civil cause of action for
In order for the Ordinance to be "narrowly tailored," it must not "burden substantially more speech than is necessary to further the government's [stated] substantial interests." Ward, 491 U.S. at 799, 109 S.Ct. 2746. A regulation will meet this standard if it "targets and eliminates no more than the exact source of the `evil' that it seeks to remedy." Frisby, 487 U.S. at 485, 108 S.Ct. 2495 (citing City Council of L.A., 466 U.S. at 808-810, 104 S.Ct. 2118). The city may not regulate "expression in such a manner that a substantial portion of the burden on speech does not serve to advance its goals." Ward, 491 U.S. at 800, 109 S.Ct. 2746. Nevertheless, the Ordinance "need not be the least restrictive or least intrusive means" of furthering the government's interest. Ward, 491 U.S. at 798, 109 S.Ct. 2746.
The Ordinance, does not completely prohibit any means of communication, thus it may satisfy the tailoring requirement "even though it is not the least restrictive or least intrusive means" of serving the stated interests. Hill, 530 U.S. at 726, 120 S.Ct. 2480. The Ordinance does not adversely affect a person's ability to read displayed signs nor does it place any limitations on the number, size, text, or images of signs. With respect to oral communications, the Ordinance does not place limits on the number of speakers, the noise level, or the use of an amplification device. The eight foot zone allows a speaker to communicate at a normal conversational distance. Furthermore, a speaker is permitted to stand still while others, pass within eight feet; "only attempts to address unwilling listeners are affected." Id. at 727, 120 S.Ct. 2480. Moreover, the Ordinance does not prevent a leafletter, such as Brown, from simply standing near the path of oncoming pedestrians and offering her material, which the pedestrian can easily accept. Id.
The context of Brown's activities and the location of the facilities in the instant case are important to consider in determining whether the Ordinance burdens more speech than necessary. The Supreme Court has noted "the unique concerns that surround health care facilities" because these facilities provide needed medical treatment to patients that are often particularly vulnerable due to emotional distress. Id. at 728, 120 S.Ct. 2480. These patients need quiet and comforting environments where they can receive health services in a "restful, uncluttered, relaxing, and helpful atmosphere." Id. at 728-29, 120 S.Ct. 2480. The Defendant City of Pittsburgh has responded to "its substantial and legitimate interest in protecting these persons from unwanted encounters, confrontation" by enacting an ordinance with "exceedingly modest restrictions on [a] speaker's ability to approach." Id. at 729, 120 S.Ct. 2480.
The First Amendment does not "guarantee the right to employ every conceivable method of communication at all
Brown challenges the Ordinance arguing that it is unconstitutionally vague as applied to her and, in general, because it endows the police with too much discretion in applying the terms of the Ordinance in its enforcement of the law. (Docket No. 35-2, at 21).
A fundamental requirement of due process is that a statute must clearly delineate the conduct it proscribes. Groyned v. City of Rockford,
Ordinances which are insufficiently clear and precise in their terms are determined to be invalid for the following three reasons: (1) to avoid punishing people for behavior that they could not have known was illegal; (2) to avoid subjective enforcement of the laws based on "arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement" by government officers; and (3) to avoid any chilling effect on the exercise of First Amendment Freedoms. Foti, 146 F.3d at 638 (citing Grayned, 408 U.S. at 108-09, 92 S.Ct. 2294).
Brown first argues that the Ordinance is vague because it fails to provide her and others, with ordinary intelligence, a reasonable opportunity to know what it means. She further claims that the Ordinance is vague because it encourages arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement.
Her first argument fails because the Ordinance
Furthermore, Brown's hearing testimony shows that she understands the Ordinance and what it means — she testified that she cannot approach an individual without his or her consent and if she does she is subject to arrest, detention, and a fine. (Docket No. 50, at 7 ¶¶ 58-60, 65; Trans. I, at 45:1-3, 48:8-12).
Brown next argues the Ordinance is overbroad as applied to her because it protects too many people in too many places, rather than just the patients at the facilities where her speech occurs. (Docket No. 50, at 22). She argues that the Ordinance is overinclusive because it burdens her purportedly peaceful speech activities rather than just persons with a history of aggressive and violent conduct towards others, which is an interest alleged to be furthered by the Ordinance.
An ordinance that is clear and precise in its terms "may nevertheless be `overbroad' if in its reach it prohibits constitutionally protected conduct." Grayned, 408 U.S. at 114, 92 S.Ct. 2294. The Supreme Court has held that the fact that "the coverage of a statute is broader than the specific concern that led to its enactment is of no constitutional significance." Hill, 530 U.S. at 730-31, 120 S.Ct. 2480. The vital question then becomes "whether the ordinance sweeps within its limits what may not be punished under the First and Fourteenth Amendment." Grayned, 408 U.S. at 115, 92 S.Ct. 2294.
Here, the important fact to keep in mind is that all persons accessing the health care facilities share the goals served by the Ordinance. See Hill, 530 U.S. at 731, 120 S.Ct. 2480. The Defendant City Council made a general policy choice; therefore, the claimed overbreadth of the Ordinance is assessed under the constitutional standard set forth in Ward, rather than a higher standard of scrutiny. See Madsen, 512 U.S. at 764, 114 S.Ct. 2516; Hill, 530 U.S. at 731, 120 S.Ct. 2480. The Ordinance does not ban any forms of communication or message. Rather, it merely regulates the places where communication may occur. Hill, 530 U.S. at 731, 120 S.Ct. 2480. Furthermore, the City Defendants had the benefit of Hill and its progeny in drafting the present regulation. As in Hill, the "comprehensiveness of the statute is a virtue, not a vice, because it is evidence against there being a discriminatory governmental motive." Id. The Ordinance simply does not ban any type of communication, it merely regulates where it may occur. Brown has not shown that the Ordinance's impact on the conduct of other speakers will differ from its impact on her own sidewalk counseling. See Id. at 705, 120 S.Ct. 2480 (citing Broadrick v. Oklahoma,
C. Prior Restraint
Brown claims that the Ordinance is a prior restraint on her speech because it "bars ... speech in advance of expression and requires her to obtain consent before approaching individuals." (Docket No. 35, at 18). "A prior restraint on speech comes into play when the government conditions an individual's right to speak upon the prior approval of a government official." Dowling v. Woodbridge, No. Civ.05-313, 2005 WL 419734, at *7
The prior restraint argument presented by Brown was rejected by the Supreme Court in Hill, Schenck, and Madsen. In Hill, the Court noted that any concerns regarding "prior restraint" relate to restrictions imposed by official censorship; however, the regulations at issue there only applied if the pedestrian did not consent to the approach. See Hill, 530 U.S. at 733, 120 S.Ct. 2480; see also Schenck, 519 U.S. at 374 n. 6, 117 S.Ct. 855; Madsen, 512 U.S. at 764 n. 2, 114 S.Ct. 2516. Under the Ordinance, no method of communication is foreclosed, and no speaker is prohibited from expressing his or her message. The Ordinance requires only that a willing listener consent to the speaker's approach and counseling in advance of the speaker doing so. It in no way bans nor prohibits the speaker's ultimate message. This Court finds that, based upon the evidence and pertinent precedent, the Ordinance's consent requirement does not place a prior restraint on speech. The Court now turns to Brown's request for an injunction.
VII. Standard for Granting a Preliminary Injunction
A district court may grant the "extraordinary remedy" of a preliminary injunction upon consideration of the following four factors:
Tanimura & Antle, Inc. v. Packed Fresh Produce, Inc.,
The burden of proving the need for injunctive relief lies with the plaintiff to establish every element in her favor and if that is not accomplished, the injunction is inappropriate. See Opticians Ass'n of Am. v. Indep. Opticians of Am.,
After careful consideration and for the reasons that follow, the Court finds that the Plaintiff has not demonstrated an immediacy for relief and that the Plaintiff has failed to make a clear showing of irreparable injury to her constitutional rights. Moreover, in light of Hill, discussed in more detail infra, the Court finds the Ordinance to be reasonable. Therefore, this Court DENIES the Plaintiffs Motion for Preliminary Injunction [DE 22].
A. Reasonable Probability of Success on the Merits
1. First Amendment As Applied Challenge
In determining Brown's probability of success on the merits, the Court will now address Brown's as applied challenge to Sections 623.03 and 623.04 of the Ordinance on the basis of-her argument that these provisions are unconstitutional. Specifically, Brown moves to enjoin enforcement of the Ordinance on the basis that it violates her rights pursuant to the Equal Protection Clause, the Free Exercise Clause, and the Pennsylvania RFPA. (Docket No. 23).
Brown challenges the validity of the Ordinance as applied to her individual protest activities outside various women's health facilities arguing that the City police officers enforced the Ordinance in a contentbased manner as to her. For this proposition, she refers to the following two incidents: (1) on January 28, 2006, Officer Alexander allegedly told her that she could distribute anti-pornography literature but not anti-abortion literature (which he denies) (Trans. I, at 37:8-14); and (2) in September of 2006, Brown claims that she witnessed health facility employees violate the Ordinance while the City police officers who allegedly also witnessed the same event did not enforce the Ordinance against the clinic employees, but did enforce it against Brown. (Docket No. 50, at 16 ¶ 164-170). The City has controverted these facts.
An as applied challenge proposes that the Ordinance is unconstitutional as applied to Brown's particular speech activity, even though it may be capable of valid application to others. Vincent, 466 U.S. at 803, n. 22, 104 S.Ct. 2118. This type of challenge does not involve the enforcement of the Ordinance against individuals other than the challenger. Brown may individually argue the discriminatory enforcement of this speech restriction based upon viewpoint discrimination in violation of her civil rights. See Foti, 146 F.3d at 635 (citing INS v. FLRA,
2. Equal Protection Claim
Brown argues the enforcement of the regulation against her violates her Equal Protection rights because in her estimation it was enforced in a contentbased manner, it lacks narrow tailoring, it fails to leave open ample alternatives for communication, and it fails to further the Defendant City's interests. (Docket No. 50, at 20-23).
Under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, "all persons similarly situated should be treated alike." City of Cleburne v. Cleburne Living Ctr.,
The standard for a Fourteenth Amendment equal protection discriminatory enforcement challenge requires the proponent to prove that the government, through a government actor, intended to discriminate against the disfavored person or group. See McGuire, 386 F.3d at 63. The challenger to a facially neutral law must show a policy, custom or "pattern of unlawful favoritism" on the part of the government in order to succeed on an equal protection claim. Id. (citing Thomas v. Chicago Park Dist,
The Ordinance is obviously the product of state action, and acts done under the authority of that regulation can be considered state action if the acts are done jointly by private and state actors. See, e.g., Lugar v. Edmondson Oil Co.,
We now address Brown's argument that because the City police officers purportedly enforced the Ordinance in a discriminatory manner as to her, relief is warranted under the Equal Protection Clause. A municipality may be liable under Section 1983 only if it can be proven that municipal employees have violated a person's civil rights as result of a municipal policy or practice. Williams v. West Chester,
In this Court's view, the Ordinance in this case is facially neutral based on motivations clearly void of invidious viewpoint discrimination. "The fact that one side of the abortion debate might suffer some incidental adverse effects or burdens did not defeat the statute's constitutionality." McGuire, 386 F.3d at 63. Any evidence of unequal enforcement merely indicates a disproportionate burden that does not amount to viewpoint discrimination, unless the relevant government actors intentionally and selectively enforced the Ordinance. Id. Additionally, the Supreme Court has stated that in order to succeed on a viewpoint discriminatory enforcement challenge against a law that is facially constitutional, the challenger must show "a pattern of unlawful favoritism." Thomas, 534 U.S. at 325, 122 S.Ct. 775. Brown has failed to make such a showing. Furthermore, she has failed to present clear evidence that the officers were acting based upon an established invidious custom, policy, or practice. She refers to only two instances where the police allegedly sought to enforce the Ordinance against her. Furthermore, the facts of those two incidents are disputed and it was presented to the Court that Brown has continued in her protest activities to this day. (Trans. II, at 67:15-20). This evidence does not amount to "a pattern of unlawful favoritism." Id. Therefore, this Court finds that the Plaintiffs Equal Protection claim fails.
3. Free Exercise Claim
Brown argues her Free Exercise rights were violated by the Ordinance because its application places a substantial burden on her religious exercise. (Docket No. 50, at 24 ¶¶ 34-35). For this argument, she claims that the City Defendants' enforcement triggers strict scrutiny. (Id. at 25 ¶¶ 39-41).
The Free Exercise Clause states that "Congress shall make no law prohibiting the free exercise" of religion. U.S. Const, amend. I. Free exercise protections are triggered when a law "discriminates against some or all religious beliefs or regulates or prohibits conduct because it is undertaken for religious reasons." Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc. v. City of Hialeah,
Brown has failed to show that the enforcement of the Ordinance against her substantially burdens her right to Free Exercise. The Ordinance restricts only the place where Brown may counsel listeners regarding her religious beliefs. It in no way forecloses her ability to engage in sidewalk counseling or leafleting on any and all issues she considers important to her stated deeply-held religious beliefs. Brown is not prohibited from speaking or leafletting in the exercise of her religion; instead, it is only the location and manner in which she may engage in her activities that is limited. Brown, who bears the burden of proving a substantial burden on the practice of her religion, has not shown that the enforcement of the Ordinance has placed a substantial burden on her right to free exercise of her religion. See Sherbert v. Verner,
Furthermore, the Ordinance was not designed to favor one religion over another. It is generally applicable, and does not proscribe any particular conduct, whether religiously motivated or not, thus strict scrutiny is not applicable. See Tenafly, 309 F.3d at 165. Nor does the law regulate or prohibit conduct because it is undertaken for religious reasons. See Lukumi, 508 U.S. at 532, 113 S.Ct. 2217. The Ordinance does not discriminate based upon one's religion nor does it refer to any religious practice in its language or context. In the application of the Ordinance, the fact that it may have an adverse impact on an individual does not mean there has been impermissible targeting, as where a "social harm may have been a legitimate concern of government for reasons quite apart from discrimination" of the basis of religion. Id. at 535, 113 S.Ct. 2217. The Ordinance is a neutral law of general application, therefore it does not need to be justified by a compelling interest because it is not targeted at religiously motivated conduct nor does it selectively burden religious activity. See Id. at 532-35, 113 S.Ct. 2217.
Because Brown has not shown a substantial burden on her exercise of religion
4. Violation of the Pennsylvania Religious Freedom Act Claim
Brown challenges the Ordinance as being violative of the Pennsylvania RFPA, 71 PA. CONS.STAT. §§ 2401-2407 (2002), as applied to her. The RFPA provides that an "agency shall not substantially burden a person's free exercise of religion, including any burden which results from a rule of general applicability, unless the agency proves, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the burden (1)[i]n furtherance of a compelling interest of the agency, and is (2)[t]he least restrictive means of furthering the compelling interest." Combs v. Homer Ctr. Sch. Dist, No. 04-CV-1599, 2005 WL 3338885, at *9, 2005 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 32007, at *30 (W.D.Pa. Dec. 8, 2005) (quoting 71 PA CONS.STAT. § 2404). The RFPA applies "to any State or local law or ordinance and implementation of that law, whether statutory or otherwise." Combs, 2005 WL 3338885, at *10, 2005 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 32007, at *31 (quoting 71 PA. CONS.STAT. § 2406(a)). A local law or ordinance will be found to substantially burden a person's free exercise of religion only if it does any of the following:
71 PA CONS.STAT. § 2403 (2007).
In order to meet the burden of proof required by Section 2404, it is not enough that the challenged action "has some de minimis, tangential or incidental impact or is at odds with their religious beliefs." Combs, 2005 WL 3338885, at *29, 2005 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 32007, at *92-93; see also Levitan v. Ashcroft,
The Ordinance does not constrain activity or expression required by Brown's religious beliefs. It in no way prohibits or completely bans her ability to convey messages regarding her beliefs on human life. Again, it only seeks to limit the way in which she conveys her message while still permitting signs, handing out literature in accordance within the fifteen foot zone, and the counseling of individuals who give their consent with the 100 foot radius of the eight foot bubble zone. In order to find that an ordinance violates the RFPA based upon the fact that it constrains or inhibits conduct or expression, it must significantly do so. The Plaintiff has not shown that this is the case. In fact, the
B. Irreparable Harm
The Supreme Court has explicitly held that the "loss of First Amendment freedoms for even minimal periods of time, unquestionably constitutes irreparable injury." Elrod v. Burns,
Here, Brown has failed to make a clear showing that she has or will suffer irreparable, immediate injury if injunctive relief is denied at this stage. As set forth in Hohe, assertion of First Amendment rights does not automatically require the finding of irreparable harm needed for the issuance of a preliminary injunction. Hohe, 868 F.2d at 73. Futher, "[constitutional harm is not necessarily synonymous with the irreparable harm needed for issuance of a preliminary injunction." Hohe, 868 F.2d at 73. It is the magnitude of the harm, not the duration, that is decisive. In order to show irreparable harm, Brown must show "a chilling effect on free expression." Id. Moreover, Brown must show a "direct penalization, as opposed to the incidental inhibition, of First Amendment rights" in order to prove an irreparable injury will occur. Id. Brown has failed to make such a showing. In fact, Brown's counsel represented to the Court that she continues in her activities at the facilities, described supra. (Trans. I, at 48:1-5; Trans. II, at 67:15-20).
The City Defendants have raised the defense of laches claiming that Brown's six-month delay in filing her preliminary injunction motion negates the presumption of irreparable harm. (Docket No. 35, at 2 n. 1). In response, Brown argues that she has timely filed her motion and the delay in filing the motion does not amount to inexcusable delay. (Docket No. 40, at 1). She further argues that the City Defendants were not prejudiced by the delay, thus the defense of laches fails. Id.
The defense of laches consists of two essential elements: (1) inexcusable delay in filing suit; and (2) prejudice resulting to the defendant from such delay. Univ. of Pittsburgh v. Champion Prods., Inc.,
The Ordinance was enacted in December of 2005. The first incident of enforcement, of which Brown complains, did not occur until January 28, 2006. Brown also alleged, without providing specific dates, additional enforcement events that occurred after the Ordinance was passed. Furthermore, Brown attended the public hearings held by the Pittsburgh City Council regarding the Ordinance on December 7, 2005 and December 13, 2005. (Trans. II, at 29:1-11, 30:15-16). Brown had notice of the Ordinance after it went into effect in December of 2005. The present action was initiated on March 27, 2006, three months later. Moreover, she did not file her request for injunctive relief until June 28, 2006, following an additional three month period. Plaintiffs counsel has represented that Brown has to this day continued in her protests. (Trans. I, at 48:1-5, Trans. II, at 67:15-20).
As discussed herein, at best Brown has only shown an incidental impact on her First Amendment rights. She has cited to two past events, both of which are disputed, for which she claims irreparable harm. In this Court's estimation, she has made no credible showing that any future constitutional harm is likely to occur. In order to support a request for injunctive relief, Brown cannot solely rely on past injury to meet her burden, but must prove a likelihood of future harm as the Ordinance is applied to her. See City of L.A. v. Lyons,
C. Greater Harm to Nonmoving Party by Granting Relief
Brown asserts that awarding her injunctive relief would not harm Defendants because they "already permit speech concerning other topics in the same public way and sidewalks" that Brown seeks to access. (Docket No. 23, at 29).
However, this Courts finds that granting such relief would clearly result in greater harm to the City Defendants. By requiring the City Defendants to enforce the Ordinance against all other members of the public except for Brown would indeed potentially harm the City Defendants and its stated goals for the Ordinance. The City Defendants enacted the Ordinance to remedy the following concerns: violent confrontations at the downtown health facilities, issues relating to public sidewalks, inefficiency in the deployment of municipal police officers, and lack of certainty by citizens and police officers as to proper behavior. (Docket No. 49, at 2 ¶ 5). As discussed supra, the Ordinance was designed to promote the public safety of individuals entering arid leaving health care facilities and protestors. Exempting Brown from the restrictions of the Ordinance is contrary to the Defendants' compelling interests and would significantly hinder the efforts behind the enactment of the Ordinance. Allowing only Brown to cross the buffer zone lines would cause serious problems between the other protestors, the health facilities, and the City of Pittsburgh. It would undercut the very efficiency and consistency the Ordinance seeks to achieve. Hence, granting Brown such extraordinary relief would result in greater harm to the Defendants.
D. Public Interest
It is always in the public interest to prevent the violation of a party's constitutional rights. See G & V Lounge, Inc. v. Michigan Liquor Control Commission,
However, Brown has not shown that her constitutional rights have been violated to this point. To enjoin the enforcement of the Ordinance would diminish the efforts of the City in reaching its stated goals of ensuring public safety by maintaining the safe and unimpeded access to health care facilities. To that end, it "frequently is observed that a preliminary injunction is an extraordinary and drastic remedy, one that should not be granted unless the movant, by a clear showing, carries the burden of persuasion." Mazurek v. Armstrong,
For the foregoing reasons, the Court finds that the Ordinance is a facially constitutional regulation of the time, place, and manner of protected speech, according to the Supreme Court's holding in Hill v. Colorado. The Court also finds that the terms of the Ordinance are not unconstitutionally vague on their face or as applied to Brown nor are they overbroad. Brown's as-applied challenge to the Ordinance fails because she has not proven an established invidious custom, policy or practice on the part of the City of Pittsburgh and its police officers. The enforcement of the Ordinance against Brown does not substantially burden her right to free exercise of her religion. In fact, she continues in her activities to this day. Moreover, this Court finds that the Ordinance is generally applicable to all conduct outside the subject facilities, regardless of religion. Brown's claim under the Pennsylvania Religious Freedom Protection Act also fails because she has not met her burden of proving a substantial burden on her free exercise rights as required under said Act. Brown has not shown that she has or will suffer irreparable injury by the denial of relief because she not proven any direct constitutional harm to her rights.
Accordingly, upon consideration of the Plaintiffs Motion For Preliminary Injunction [DE 22], the City Defendants' response thereto [DE 35], the transcript of the evidentiary hearing held on September 21, 2006, the Plaintiffs Exhibits in Support of her Motion for Preliminary Injunction, the Plaintiffs Proposed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law [DEs 50 & 52], the City Defendants' Proposed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law [DEs 49 & 51], the transcripts of the City Council meetings leading to the passage of the challenged ordinance, the Plaintiffs Supplemental Authorities [DE 64], the Defendants' response thereto [DE 65], the transcript of the oral arguments heard on December 19, 2007, as well as the entire record in this matter, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the Plaintiffs Motion for Preliminary Injunction [DE 22] is
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