VICTORY! Life Legal helps Radiance defeat pro-abortion NAACP!

Life Legal’s amicus brief helps pro-life Radiance Foundation defeat pro-abortion NAACP’s attempt to silence criticism!

4th Circuit Court of Appeals rules in favor of Radiance’s First Amendment rights….

NORFOLK, Va., May 19, 2015 — Last October, we told you about the galling case of Radiance v. NAACP, in which pro-life African American Ryan Bomberger and his Radiance Foundation faced an attempt by the NAACP to silence criticism of its abortion advocacy.
On its web site, the Radiance Foundation had dubbed the NAACP “the National Association for the Abortion of Colored People.” The critique seems to have hit home, for the NAACP responded with a demand to cease and desist. Bomberger and the Radiance Foundation then sought a declaratory that they in fact had not infringed any NAACP trademarks. The NAACP counterclaimed with the express purpose of shutting down Radiance’s protest against its policies.
Ryan Bomberger of Radiance Speaking in 2014
Incredibly, U.S. District Court Judge Raymond Jackson found in favor of the NAACP.
On appeal, Life Legal entered the fray with an amicus brief — joined by our allies at the Bioethics Defense Fund. The pro-life brief was filed on behalf of the National Black Pro-Life Coalition, the Rev. Walter Hoye, Dr. Alveda C. King, and Dr. Day Gardner.
The 3-0 ruling from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals completely vindicated the free speech rights of Ryan Bomberger and the Radiance Foundation. The opinion was written by Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III, joined by Judge Pamela A. Harris and Senior Judge Andre M. Davis. We are proud to observe that the ruling clearly alluded to two points made in our brief:

  • First, our brief indicated that what the district court cited as evidence of trademark “confusion” was in reality evidence that angry constituents of the NAACP understood for the first time the sort of abortion advocacy that the civil rights giant was practicing. The appellate court observed the truth of this argument, stating “Indignation is not confusion.”
  • Second, our brief argued that the gigantic NAACP has ample resources to correct any misconceptions its officers felt that Radiance had conveyed. They did not have to shut down the free speech of the much smaller organization. The appellate court agreed, noting, “The NAACP is a renowned civil rights organizations with numerous mechanisms for connecting with its membership and the public. Organizations of its size and stature possess megaphones all their own.”

Ryan Bomberger and the Radiance Foundation are once again free to criticize the pro-abortion policies of the NAACP. Given the outrage that many members expressed when they first learned of these policies, Radiance’s critique may in the long run lead to reform.
Congratulations to Ryan and to Radiance — and gratitude also for their courage, which made this victory possible!