ACLU Withdraws Baseless Lawsuit

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by Trey Blanton  •  •  May 28, 2020   

Texas sanctuary cities for the unborn hold the line

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HOUSTON ( - The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Texas dropped the "scattershot" lawsuit this week filed against seven East Texas cities that passed ordinances declaring themselves to be "Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn."

ACLU Staff Attorney Anjali Salvador

As previously reported, the ACLU of Texas filed a lawsuit against seven of the twelve (and growing number of) sanctuary cities in late February of 2020. On behalf of their clients, the Texas Equal Access Fund and Lilith Fund for Reproductive Equity, the suit complained of constitutional violations to the First, Fourth, Fifth and 14th Amendments on the basis of abridging free speech, free association, content and viewpoint discrimination, violating Bills of Attainder, and the laws being vague.

ACLU Staff Attorney Anjali Salvador, wrote in a news and commentary article the ordinances were "blatantly unconstitutional." Salvador went on to claim that most Texans, like most Americans, support abortion. This claim is seemingly in contradiction to the ACLU's "What's at Stake" page on abortion, where the group states that more than half the country's population is "hostile" to abortion and only 13 states are abortion-friendly.

Texas Right To Life celebrates the withdrawal of the lawsuit as a victory.

When the lawsuit was filed, Rebecca Parma, legislative and political assoiciate with Texas Right to Life, told Church Militant, "The lawsuit, itself, is baseless. It is throwing a hodgepodge of complaints at the court and seeing what they can get to stick." Parma went on to say the ordinances were crafted to withstand the expected lawsuits.

Texas Right to Life celebrates the withdrawal of the lawsuit as a victory. The ordinances have been updated to remove their list of abortion providers and advocates as "criminal organizations," but remain in place to deny those in the abortion business the opportunity to establish a physical presence in their jurisdictions.

Prior to the council meeting on the "Sanctuary City" ordinance in Mineral Wells, Texas, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported on the ACLU and their submission of a letter to the city council threatening a potential lawsuit if the ordinance was passed. The ordinance failed to pass in a 5–2 vote.

During the Mineral Wells broadcast of the meeting, the city legal counsel advised at the 48-minute mark that the ordinance "would not be advisable and may be illegal."

The ACLU wanted to intimidate cities but realized they had no chance of striking down these pro-life ordinances.
Mark Lee Dickson

Mark Lee Dickson, with Right to Life of East Texas and in partnership with Texas Right to Life, has spearheaded the Sanctuary City for the Unborn campaign. Through his advocacy, 12 cities have passed the ordinances, eight have failed, and another 18 cities are being developed as potential sanctuary locations.

After the ACLU dropped their lawsuit, Dickson said:

This lawsuit was nothing but a publicity stunt to deter other cities from creating sanctuaries for the unborn. But it will end up having the opposite effect. Now even the ACLU acknowledges that there is no grounds for challenging these ordinances, and this will embolden other cities and towns to join the movement.

Kim Schwartz, communication director for Texas Right to Life, encourages more people to join the fight against abortion: "The ACLU wanted to intimidate cities but realized they had no chance of striking down these pro-life ordinances," she said. "Now, pro-life towns can pursue the ordinance more confidently than ever!" 

"If you're pro-life, start today to make your town a Sanctuary City for the Unborn! Contact us at!" Schwartz added. 

At time of publication, there were no statements observed released by ACLU on their withdrawal of the lawsuit and a voicemail left for the Texas office was not returned.

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