Skip to comments.Public hearing on new Mass. “buffer zone” bill a disgraceful sham.
Posted on 07/22/2014 1:24:58 PM PDT by massmike
In many ways the Massachusetts buffer zone bill saga isnt really just about the abortion issue. Its a stunning preview of what we can expect from the iron-fist politics of the Left in the age of Obama. Long-time State House observers weve talked to cannot recall anything like this.
The public hearing by the Joinit Judiciary Committee of the Massachusetts Legislature on bill SD 2106 was about as shameful and phony as weve seen in almost 20 years.
The public, including pro-life groups, had almost no notice at all of the hearing, despite the 48-hour notification rule. It wasnt even listed on the State House website until the afternoon before it took place - with two starting times.
The text of the bill wasnt posted for the public until after the hearing ended. The Senate Clerks office refused to release a copy beforehand. The only way to get a copy was to appeal to someone in the sponsors office.
Our side did the best it could, given the very short notice and difficulty getting a copy of the text.
On the other hand, the Planned Parenthood people obviously had several days notice. They brought in numerous public officials, including the Governor, Attorney General, Boston Police Commissioner, and about a dozen state legislators. And they scheduled several panels and various experts with carefully crafted testimony. They all seemed to have no had problem getting the text of the bill.
Hearings of this high interest are often streamed live. The day before the hearing, the House Speaker's office told Catch of the Day Video News that the hearing would be televised. The House Counsel and the Senate Counsel said the same thing. They insisted that everything was in place. But mysteriously, it didnt happen. Later the State House Broadcast Unit claimed they had not been contacted by anyone.
When the hearing started, the Committee played their usual game: They made the pro-family people testify last. This has been a standing joke at the State House for years and its intentionally very demeaning. Of course, elected officials (because they are so important!) are always immediately allowed to testify whenever they show up.
The pro-Planned Parenthood people greatly outnumbered the pro-family people due to their financial and organizational resources. Panel after panel came forth and read their testimony.
All the pro-abortion testimony was basically the same. They all talked in emotional detail about crimes and harassment that supposedly happened outside of abortion clinics before the 2007 buffer zone law was passed, and are being repeated now that its been struck down. And they demanded that women be able to have abortions without being judged by others who might be standing there.
The pro-family side, in general, gave excellent testimony in rebuttal, especially given the short notice.
They pointed out to the Committee - as the Supreme Court even observed -- that none of those lurid, horrible crimes allegedly committed outside of abortion clinics have been documented. Planned Parenthood could produce no record of convictions, no arrests, no video, no photos. Its all just talk.
They also showed how this bill is simply a way to suppress pro-life free speech. (1) It is clearly unconstitutional, with its dispersion language, newly defined buffer zone, and outrageously high punishments directed at pro-lifers. (2) Virtually everything it purports to protect the clinic patrons from is already illegal and prosecutable under current laws.
No part of this bill should become law. Pro-family State Reps, attorneys, and others implored the Committee to take some time and think this through and not rush it.
Ultimately, none of this mattered to the majority of Committee members. The fix was in. The party line must be followed. The hearing was just a formality in getting the bill rushed through as fast as possible.
At about 4:00 pm, after six hours, there were no more people who wanted to testify. So the committee called a 10-minute recess. Then they came back into the room, discussed bill for a few quick minutes, then took a quick vote. It passed 10-3 (The two Republicans present and a conservative Democrat voted no.) At 4:20 pm the hearing room emptied out.
Then things really got going. By 6:00 pm that evening the bill had been:
1. Renamed as S2281 2. Sent to and passed by the Rules Committee 3. Sent to the full Senate 4. Passed second reading in Senate 5. Amendment written by sponsor (Sen. Chandler) passed by Senate 6. Passed third reading in Senate 7. Passed by Senate (voice vote with no roll call) 8. Renamed, as amended, as S2283, and sent to House
Usually on something this contentious - especially a bill like this answering a US Supreme Court ruling - one would expect at least the façade of legislative decorum and gravitas.
Amendment makes bill even worse
Sen. Chandlers amendment took an unconstitutional bill and made it even more ouutrageous, in our opinion. The bills original dispersal language allowed police to disperse any crowd of two or more people and, without any due process, force them outside a 25-foot buffer zone. After the amendment, the bill now applies to one or more people - i.e., anyone at all -- and thus changes the word disperse to withdraw. Police can require anyone they choose, without due process, to be outside of the buffer zone - which the US Supreme Court has basically already declared unconstitutional - under threat of outrageous fines and punishment.
We were told by the House Clerks office that the next formal session of the House will be on Wednesday, July 23. Bill S2283 will unquestionably be taken up.
Weve been told that they will allow debate on the bill (imagine that!), and we anticipate that it will be fierce. The pro-life members of the House, led by Reps. Jim Lyons and Marc Lombardo, are unafraid to go to the mat on this, and make the House members understand how abusive, unnecessary, and unconstitutional this bill is. They will note that it will surely end up in court, and likely be struck down again. They will point out that all the horror stories are undocumented lies.
What you should do right now: If you live in Massachusetts, find out who your State Rep is and call his office (or his home), tell him you are a constituent. If you can, visit him at the State House.
Here's what to tell your legislators about Bill S2283:
(1) Its clearly unconstitutional, with its withdrawal language without due process, a new buffer zone, and outrageously high punishments directed at pro-lifers.
(2) Everything is purports to protect the public from is already illegal and prosecutable under current laws.
(3) The emotional stories of crimes outside of abortion clinics have no documentation, arrests, prosecutions, video, etc. - as the US Supreme Court itself observed.
Public hearing on new Mass. buffer zone bill a disgraceful sham. Rushed through Senate -- now on to House on Wed. 7/23
This is no big deal. All the abortion lovers can adopt all the illegal children they are shipping in. In 40 years taxachusetts will be Nicaragua north. At least the people will be nicer!
Maybe I have this wrong, but I thought the supreme court decided this issue. If so then a court should find these massachusettes lib a-holes in contempt and throw them in jail.
The behavior they seek to proscribe...”getting in someone’s face” and being “obnoxious” is routinely tolerated if it’s union thugs on a picket line.
The only thing different is the content and view point of the speech.
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