Skip to comments.Irony: Kagan Compares Abortion Clinics to Slaughterhouses at Supreme Court
Posted on 01/15/2014 3:03:14 PM PST by Morgana
Do pro-life Americans have free speech rights the right to quietly talk to willing passerbys on the street corner or are the public sidewalks surrounding abortion clinics somehow speech free zones impervious to the protections of the First Amendment?
That is the precise question considered by the Supreme Court today in McCullen v. Coakley.
Pro-abortion legislators in Massachusetts passed legislation making it illegal for anyone to speak on the public sidewalks otherwise known as exercising the First Amendment within 35 feet of abortion clinics. Illegal that is for everyone but employees of the abortion clinics.
Todays case was the epitome of the abortion distortion the fact that abortion changes the calculus of longstanding legal principles.
It is axiomatic in Supreme Court jurisprudence that public sidewalks are open public fora. In other words, your free speech rights are guaranteed on public sidewalks. For the government to prove otherwise, they would have to show that any restriction is based on some overwhelming or compelling government interest and that the restriction they wish to place on that speech is limited or narrowly tailored in such a way that it imposes the smallest imposition reasonably possible on your free speech.
Just because the government doesnt like your speech or agree with it does not mean that they get to restrict it not liking it is not a compelling interest and banning it is not narrowly tailored.
Thats First Amendment law in a nutshell in every case that is but abortion. Regarding abortion the rules too often become distorted in favor of abortion and against pro-life viewpoints. To some, the First Amendment just doesnt cover pro-life speech.
That abortion distortion was front and center today.
For years before this pro-abortion restriction passed, Eleanor McCullen, an elderly pro-life sidewalk counselor, had ministered to women seeking an abortion. She would kindly and quietly counsel women approaching abortion clinics about the value of human life, even helping them find assistance from pro-life groups when they chose to keep their babies. She was literally saving lives. And she is one of the nicest women you would ever hope to meet; I had the privilege of meeting her today at our office after the oral argument (pictured above along with a fellow plaintiff Father Eric Cadin, standing behind her).
After the statue passed, Mrs. McCullens ministry was essentially shut down. Refusing to be silenced, she challenged this unconstitutional law.
Most disturbing about this case though is that it was not just Massachusetts defending this pro-abortion law, the Obama Administration sent its lawyers to the Supreme Court to argue that this anti-pro-life speech law in no way violated the Constitution.
At one point the Obama Administrations lawyer actually argued that there was no such thing a right to conduct a quite conversation on a public sidewalk. Justice Kennedy was baffled.
In a painfully ironic moment, Justice Kagan compared abortion clinics to slaughterhouses, asking what if this statute had been written about slaughterhouses to keep animal rights activists from blocking the entrance and exits.
Jaws dropped throughout the Courtroom when she said that. The comparison is eerie, as abortion clinics take the lives of millions of unborn Americans each year.
This case should be decided later this summer, and a lot rides on the Courts opinion. Will it uphold free speech or will it continue to promulgate the abortion distortion?
Fourteen years ago, ACLJ Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow argued an almost identical case, Hill v. Colorado. Importantly, it was a case in which Justice Kennedy issued a stinging dissenting opinion on the side of pro-life speech stating that the courts ruling upholding a similar buffer zone contradict[ed] more than a half century of well-established First Amendment principles. The three dissenting voices in Hill, Justices Kennedy, Scalia, and Thomas, remain on the Court today.
While it is never safe to make a presumption about a case based on oral argument, there were a number of justices who questioned the constitutionality of this Massachusetts statute.
Today, Justices Kennedy, Scalia, and Alito were highly critical of the Massachusetts statue. Even Justice Kagan, seemed concerned about how far this particular law went, asking why a 35-foot buffer zone, why so large, saying that the buffer zone would be almost as large as the Courtroom. However, Justice Kagan, like Justice Sotomayor, took a more nuanced approach in their questions. Justices Breyer and Ginsburg who are the only Justices from the Hill majority still on the Court, appeared dismissive of the pro-life arguments.
Justice Thomas, who is traditionally silent during oral argument, did not have any questions, but surprisingly Chief Justice Roberts didnt say a word during the course of oral arguments.
We filed an amicus brief in this case, arguing in no uncertain terms that Hill was wrongly decided and that pro-life free speech should hold the same place as other free speech under the Constitution.
Pro-life sidewalk counselors like Mrs. McCullen and Father Cadin should not be treated as second-class citizens. The public sidewalks outside of abortion clinics should no longer be speech free zones for those with pro-life views, but should be constitutionally protected free speech zones for all Americans.
I don't know why Republicans don't frame the argument as this, they'd win every time.
It sounds like the Colorado as well as the Massachusetts law may be overturned (allowing Abortion Clinics to set up a buffer zone VOIDING free speech in that area).
Irony is so ironic.
Any Constitution-free Zone should be thrown out, but sounds like SCOTUS is okay with them
They have no problem with naked feminists running into a church and throwing red paint at the altar I bet, but let someone blaspheme the leftist holy sites and No Speech Zones are okay
They need to get over the meme of “...blocking entrances and exits...”
It is NOT about “blocking” anything.
Having said that, I’d like to clean up the “pro-life” act we have going in Denver, that focuses on shouting HELL AND DAMNATION to already stressed out mothers.
(coming from guys who look like they just shuffled over from the rescue mission)
They need a message of love and help and a clear path to options.
The only solution is to SHUT DOWN these facilities, or preferably BURN THEM.
I wonder where Juan “Traitor” Roberts is on this one. Probably depends on whether it’s covered in the blackmail agreement or not. Sounds like Kennedy’s in the bag. Not that it really matters; I’d trade this one for the OsamaScare ruling in a nanosecond.
I have been pleasantly surprised at both kagan and sotomayor a couple of times. Now if they would just listen a little more to Scalia and Thomas, we might have a real court.
Kagan MAY understand that the abortuaries are benefitted most by unscrupulous MEN...
Just Nuke ‘em...
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
That's it. Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech. Free speech is absolute, as is the press, peaceable assembly and petitioning the government. I don't need a bunch of politically appointed Ivy-leaguers to tell me what it means.
Perhaps it was no accident.
Maybe not ironic. I’ve been reading numerous things saying she is authentically anti-abortion.
I hope your amicus brief spelled the word “statute.”
Wonder what these evil scumbags are up too...?
There is an means to an end here...positive it's not a good one...
Chick-fil-A is entitled to “buffer zones” under the reasoning of these laws.
and striking workers should be kept well way from what they are striking against too
My guess is that Kagan is thinking about a LOT of liberal loon protestors that will road kill on the slippery slope of these laws, if upheld.
You can bet her concerns are not about unborn children.
One of the great mysteries of the Supreme Court is that, while some presidents want to nominate serious justices, they get ideologues; and sometimes when they want to appoint ideologues, they get serious justices. Even at that level they cannot peer into someone’s heart.
And justices do persuade each other of many things.
But imagine the surprise if one or more of the Obama justices turned out to be more reasoned than he wanted.
You are exactly right. I am impressed by stances both have taken in several cases. Considering who nominated both of them, it seems better to praise their good calls more and damn their expected calls less. When someone is heading in your general direction when you don’t expect it, don’t discourage it.
Can one be arrested for discussing the Red Sox on that sidewalk?
Probably their argument is that there is some sort of heightened possibility of violence, but in that case, there should also be restrictions on the approaches to bars and liquor stores, which in fact are much more likely to become violent scenes.
Speaking out against abortion in front of an abortion clinic is the definition of “fighting words” to a liberal.
will road kill = will become road kill
Pro-abortion legislators in Massachusetts passed legislation making it illegal for anyone to speak on the public sidewalks otherwise known as exercising the First Amendment within 35 feet of abortion clinics. Illegal that is for everyone but employees of the abortion clinics.Thanks Morgana.
Maybe Kagan and the wise Latino are evolving? These justices never have to face the voters - they are appointed for life terms, so, if they are appointed they can possibly disguise their true feelings until after they get seated. I’m reminded of Sandra Day O’Connor, appointed by Ronald Reagan and what a disappointment she turned out to be. So, maybe there is some hope for these 2 after all. And, I believe there is a special place reserved in hell for Ruth Gingsberg.
Not argueing about abortion but this case seems quite simple. This side of the line is public property, that side of the line is private.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.