Skip to comments.SCOTUS Hears Oral Argument on Abortion Clinic 'Buffer Zones'
Posted on 01/15/2014 7:03:55 PM PST by Kaslin
Editor's note: This post was co-authored by Townhall web editor Christine Rousselle.
A 2007 Massachusetts law stops pro-life activists 35 feet short of abortion clinic entrances. Because of the enforced distance, they often have to shout to get their message across to the scared young women walking into Planned Parenthood to have abortions not exactly a winning strategy. McCullen v. Coakley, the case that enforces the unfair limit on pro-lifers' free speech, was center stage at the Supreme Court today.
Justices listened to oral argument this morning after deciding to hear the case in June. SCOTUSblog outlined whats at stake:
Issue: (1) Whether the First Circuit erred in upholding Massachusettss selective exclusion law which makes it a crime for speakers other than clinic employees or agents . . . acting within the scope of their employment to enter or remain on a public way or sidewalk within thirty-five feet of an entrance, exit, or driveway of a reproductive health care facility under the First and Fourteenth Amendments, on its face and as applied to petitioners; (2) whether, if Hill v. Colorado permits enforcement of this law, Hill should be limited or overruled.
Two changes to the Court since 2000 - the last time the court ruled on anti-abortion demonstrations outside clinics - gives pro-lifers some hope for a more positive outcome this time around. Four of the Justices who were in the six-to-three majority 13 years ago have left the Court and been replaced, and the Court has become more sensitive to First Amendment rights. Will it make a difference?
On Tuesday, The New York Times editorial board made it clear whose side theyre on. While at times they admitted buffer zones should apply to both pro-life and pro-choice activists, the editors eventually clarified who they thought was the true victim in this case:
While that is the legal question before the court, the broader issue at stake is protecting womens access to abortion, which is under assault around the country by lawmakers and protesters alike.
No, what's under assault is lead plaintiff Eleanor McCullen. The New York Times published this condescending portrayal of the pro-life activist, describing how she likes to stake out a spot in front of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Boston to counsel young women to keep their babies, but she has to watch her step not to put one foot over the yellow line that signifies the beginning of the Massachusetts buffer zone. The editors mention she had persuaded more than 80 women not to have abortions. By persuading" women "not to have abortions," I think they meant she "saved 80 lives."
McCullen v. Coakley is significant in that it involves life and death situations, but Lila Rose, president of the pro-life organization Live Action, pointed out the case in question could also have an impact on the First Amendment:
Though the Massachusetts law in question certainly has to do with abortion, and the risk to thousands of innocent human lives is severe, this is a First Amendment issue first and foremost. The Constitution of the United States does not become void as one gets close to an abortion facility.
Because the case concerns basic American freedoms, the pro-life activists have gained support from labor union organizations who want to protect the right to picket, religious organizations and a dozen states.
Christine was on the Supreme Court steps today as the oral arguments got underway. Heres what she saw:
"A small crowd of people in support of the buffer zone law carried signs proclaiming they were 'pro-faith, pro-family, and pro-choice,' while two others had signs that stated their support for free speech and the Bible. Overall, the scene was relatively calm, and the pro-buffer zone crowd had largely dispersed around 10:45 a.m."
Pro-faith, pro-faith, and pro-choice. One of these things is not like the others. Hopefully the Supreme Court will understand that too. If today is any indication, things are looking up for pro-lifers and their lifesaving talking points.
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While my belief is that aborted babies will get another crack at life- the fact that our government defends wholesale slaughter of the unborn is indictment sufficient to warrant destruction of this temporal authority.
They would be better off with a millstone fastened to their necks and being cast into the deep.
free speech is about to get tossed overboard by SCOTUS
Free speech is dangerous to evil.
The Truth of Jesus Christ is especially threatening, for reasons only the Faithful apprehend.
Some of us will lose our lives, to find them.
God Bless, my brother!
If the SC can vote to allow someone to burn an American flag in the name of free speech, they can do the same for someone trying to save a baby and potentially a mother’s life.
Lemme just guess the outcome now: the 1st Amendment is no longer operable for Christians. Our ancestors would be horrified at what their refuse from persecution had become.
Lemme just guess the outcome now: the 1st Amendment is no longer operable for Christians. Our ancestors would be horrified at what their refuge from persecution had become.
Just an unconscious slip, I guess.
Who knows what silly mood will hit. But it is to be hoped and prayed that at least some of the nonsense will go away, to let folks who want to present helpful alternatives to would-be abortion patrons do so in every orderly manner possible. Big stinking secret of abortions: most patrons who would have clearly known something better was practicable wouldn’t have BEEN patrons. And for “protesters,” please watch that you are wording your presentations with care and encouragement for the baby and mother, not with a message to the effect of “how dare you consider embracing something so ugly,” or “how horrid you are.” Unless you first spark a sense of God’s love, all other remonstration is in vain.
It was by no means a utopia in the colonies and yes, persecution took place in the New World too.
What hung around was Christ... not a “religion we can be proud of.”
Read tragic story today where a Mother strangled her week old new born and put it in a dumpster. She had previously tried to get help doing a self abortion with no success...so this is the route she took. She told police I strangled it, watched it die...
She could have dropped her baby at a safe harbor drop off facility with no criminal charges against her. They found out who the mother was and she was arrested.
In the end- the infant died not by abortion but by it’s own mother’s hands.
It is a spiritual war out there.
The prayers that work best, I’ve found, specifically ask for God to be glorified in a particular situation. “Stop these creeps” might not work as well as “save the women and the babies.” We are not used to working within frameworks of grace, but that’s the light that counts. I couldn’t care whether abortionists are “bothered” unless it is in such a way as to want to accept God’s grace too. (How many protesters have EVER carried a sign saying something like “God loves you too, abortionists, and needs you to stop the killing.” EVER??)
Like Paul said, we don’t box as beating the air.
Thirty five feet. Thirty feet. Five feet Three hundred feet. Seems a bit arbitrary to me. Either a person has FREE speech or doesn’t. Distance is an abstract limit determined by a few to curtail a majority and has “no standing” in the court. JMO
It's very well-settled law that the Government can't regulate the content of speech, but can regulate the "time, place and manner" of speech. (Easy example: I can't shout into a bullhorn outside your house at 3:00 AM, even if I'm standing on a public sidewalk.)
Having said that, even "time, place and manner" restrictions have to be reasonable, and I think the Court is going to find this Massachusetts law unreasonable. There are already laws against blocking entry to clinics, so the Court is going to be hard-pressed to find a rationale for this law.
I'm going to go out on a limb and predict a 6-3 vote to reverse.
Consciences seared as if with a hot iron.
There are many desperate people out there. We can reach some of them if we purpose to do so.
We’re getting older (wife and I), but we could take a baby in if we were so led..
My wife’s eyes light up around a baby-makes her young again.
She’s had 4 but has love enough for more.