10 months ago

Pro-life advocates win First Amendment showdown with City of Tuscaloosa

Thomas More Society attorneys have beaten back efforts by the City of Tuscaloosa to require permits for constitutionally-protected activities outside the West Alabama Women’s Center, the state’s busiest abortion facility.

A press release explained that members of Prolife Tuscaloosa were told recently they would now need a permit to engage in traditional sidewalk advocacy and prayer. When they showed up on the public sidewalk outside the clinic without a permit (which they have done for many years), police officers reportedly appeared and threatened them with arrest if they did not leave.

Thomas More Society attorneys Martin Cannon and Sam McLure then met with City officials and secured the following three significant reversals:

1. The city had announced that a permit would be required for any individual to stand and counsel on the public right of way near the abortion clinic. But after meeting with Thomas More Society attorneys, the City abandoned this requirement.

2. The City had justified its permit requirement by pointing out that the public property in question was dedicated to parking and that cars had priority over the sidewalk counselors. But after meeting with Thomas More Society attorneys, the city installed a permanent steel barrier to exclude the cars.

3. After abandoning its permit requirement, the City announced that a group on either side of the issue could voluntarily obtain a one-week permit for sidewalk advocacy at the site and exclude other groups during that week. But after meeting with Thomas More Society attorneys, the city abandoned that as well.

Cannon advised that the city was wrong to deny pro-life advocates their First Amendment rights to be present and speak while on a public right of way for lack of a permit — no matter what kind of an excuse Tuscaloosa officials gave.

“Those speaking out against abortion must have the same access to the public right of way as those promoting it,” Cannon added. “Overt interference with a lawful assembly is illegal. The public, peaceful assembly of individuals or small groups at the site doesn’t rise to a level supporting a permit requirement. It is the root of American democracy to protect this right to an open public forum.”

He concluded, “Because of the prompt and forceful involvement of Thomas More attorneys, the city of Tuscaloosa realized it cannot make pro-life advocates jump through hoops to exercise their constitutionally protected rights. Over 100 children are aborted weekly at West Alabama Women’s Center – more than are born alive in Tuscaloosa County during that same period. If the members of Prolife Tuscaloosa want to educate consumers about that and pray for it to stop – they have the right to do so, and the Thomas More Society is here to defend them.”

The Thomas More Society is a national not-for-profit law firm dedicated to restoring respect in law for life, family and religious liberty.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

24 seconds ago

Trey Gowdy to speak at Faulkner University’s winter dinner

Trey Gowdy, a former eight-term U.S. Representative from South Carolina, will be the speaker at Faulkner University’s 2020 benefit dinner.

Gowdy gained prominence during his time in Congress for being one of the most conservative members on Capitol Hill. He was the driving force behind the congressional investigation into the 2012 Benghazi attack that discovered Hillary Clinton’s private email server.

The now-retired representative joins a star-studded list of previous speakers at the Faulkner University Benefit Dinner, including Nikki Haley, Tom Brokaw and Dr. Ben Carson.

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“Congressman Gowdy was entertained as a potential member of the President’s legal team for the impeachment proceedings, so he’ll have a lot to say that is relevant to what Montgomerians are talking about and thinking about as we think about the future of our nation,” Faulkner President Mike Williams said on Tuesday.

The dinner will be held on October 1 from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. A range of ticket packages are available. Some packages on the higher end grant the purchaser photo opportunities with Gowdy and access to an exclusive reception.

Those interested in purchasing a ticket for the event can go here.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.

28 mins ago

Doug Jones to host second annual HBCU summit at Miles College

Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) is inviting Alabamians to his second annual HBCU summit. The 2020 version of the summit will be at Miles College in Fairfield on February 14.

The event will have a student career and employment opportunities from across Alabama in addition to two panels moderated by Alabama’s junior senator.

Doug Jones has made championing Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) one of the cornerstones of his time in the U.S. Senate.

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In 2019, Jones took to the Senate floor to say, “HBCUs are the leading educators for African American PhDs in science and in engineering. They are foundational to building generational wealth in communities that have long faced headwinds in doing so. They are doing amazing work. ”

Alabama is home to 14 HBCUs. Jones helped guarantee the continuance of their federal funds by co-sponsoring the FUTURE act with Senator Tim Scott (R-SC). The bill was signed in to law by President Donald Trump in December 2019.

The effort received praise from the leaders of Alabama’s HBCUs, many of whom will be joining Jones for the two panels during his summit.

The two panels, as follows:

Women in the Lead: How Six Alabama HBCU Presidents Are Raising the Bar
Dr. Patricia Sims, President, Drake State Community College
Dr. Cynthia Warrick, President, Stillman College
Dr. Martha Lavender, President, Gadsden State Community College
Ms. Bobbie Knight, Interim President, Miles College
Ms. Anita Archie, Interim President, Trenholm State Community College
Dr. Shirley Friar, Chief of Staff, Tuskegee University
Moderator: Senator Doug Jones

Student Voices: How Alabama HBCU Student-Leaders Are Lifting Up Their Campuses
featuring student representatives:
Miss Keila Michelle Lawrence, Miles College
Mr. Jacobi Gray, Alabama A&M University
Miss Arin Massey, Shelton State Community College
Mr. Amani Myers, Talladega College
Mr. Dakus Sankey, Jr., Trenholm State Community College
Moderator: Senator Doug Jones

Those interested in attending the summit can go here.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.

1 hour ago

Birmingham marketing firm tapped for Super Bowl ad

Birmingham-headquartered marketing firm Big Communications has made a Super Bowl ad promoting the Fox broadcast of the 2020 Daytona 500.

The firm was tasked with making the ad by Fox Sports’ marketing team. When the ad airs on Sunday, it will be the first time in Big’s 25-year history that one of their ads will broadcast during the Super Bowl, which is the advertising industry’s biggest event of the year. Recent Super Bowls have averaged around 100 million American television viewers.

Blake Danforth, vice president of marketing for Fox Sports, credits Big’s award-winning work on Valvoline’s Never Idle campaign with piquing his interest in the firm.

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In a statement, Danforth said, “Big’s creative team had a genuine understanding of exactly what makes NASCAR fans love the sport with such an unrelenting, unrivaled intensity.”

“Promoting something as huge as the Great American Race on the biggest stage in all of advertising — that’s kind of a big deal,” commented Ford Wiles, Big partner and chief creative officer.

“This is the kind of moment that we live for — putting Alabama’s talent on display for the world to see,” Wiles concluded.

You can view Big’s Super Bowl ad here.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.

2 hours ago

Monument to gold star families will be added to Huntsville’s Veterans Memorial

The Huntsville-Madison County Veterans Memorial, a park on the north side of Huntsville’s downtown area, will be adding a monument to gold star families in 2020.

Gold Star families are those who have lost a member during service in the United States Armed Forces.

The monument is the final planned addition to the veterans memorial, a project that was first dedicated on 11/11/2011. Its origin dates back to 2000 when a half-sized replica of the Vietnam memorial was temporarily displayed in Huntsville. Some residents wanted something more permanent.

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“The Veterans Memorial has been erected not to commemorate the glory of battle or triumph of victory, but to honor the service and sacrifice of our veterans, and to pay homage to those heroes we have lost,” said Brigadier General (Retired) Bob Drolet, chair of the Huntsville-Madison County Veterans Memorial Foundation.

The monument to the gold star families is designed and aided by the Hershel “Woody” Williams Medal of Honor Foundation, a foundation that has helped install similar monuments across the United States. To date, the group has placed 59 monuments across 45 states.

An identical monument was recently announced for installation in Mobile.

The primary sponsors of the Huntsville installation are Mike and Christine Wicks.

The Gold Star Family Memorial to be installed in Huntsville will be the first of its kind in Alabama.

The four panels on the back of the monument will read, “Homeland, Family, Patriot, and Sacrifice.”

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.

3 hours ago

Bruce Pearl praises religious freedom in Alabama — ‘I can live here in Auburn and practice my faith’

Speaking to members of the media Monday on Holocaust Remembrance Day, Auburn University head basketball coach Bruce Pearl lauded the religious freedom he enjoys living in the state of Alabama. He also called for unity and spoke strongly against anti-Semitism.

Pearl last spring became the fourth Jewish head coach in NCAA history to take a team to the Final Four. He was the first president of the Jewish Coaches Association.

“Today has always been a difficult day for me as it Holocaust Remembrance Day,” the coach said on Monday in the opening statement of his press availability.

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“I was born in 1960, 15 years after we opened up the gates in Auschwitz and discovered the atrocities,” he continued. “We vow to never let that happen again to anyone. Anti-Semitism is a terrible thing. As a Jewish man, I’ve lived with it my whole life and I’ve seen its ugly face many times.”

Pearl explained, “That’s why I’m so blessed to live in this country where there is great religious freedom. I can live here in Auburn and practice my faith.”

“The great challenge for me has always been that we are brothers. We are all brothers. We are all sisters. We are all related,” he outlined. “Abraham had two sons: Isaac and Ishmael. That makes us brothers because we have the same father – Abraham the father of many nations. Jesus was born a Jew and he died a Jew. That makes me brothers with my Christian brothers. If we can focus on that, whether you agree with it or not, that’s not my point. The point is we have a lot more in common than we have apart. We should celebrate those. We should never tolerate racism or something like anti-Semitism. What I would ask you all to remember is: never again.”

RELATED: Bruce Pearl slams AOC for ‘concentration camps’ tweets: ‘Attempt to rewrite the Holocaust’

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn