Skip to comments.Massachusetts Governor Signs Radical Bill Prohibiting Pro-Life Free Speech
Posted on 07/30/2014 1:05:13 PM PDT by wagglebee
Despite the fact the nation’s highest court took the state of Massachusetts to task for passing a law curtailing the free speech rights of pro-life advocates, the Bay State is again trying to suppress them.
In a unanimous decision last month, the Supreme Court struck down a Massachusetts buffer zone law prohibiting pro-life free speech outside abortion clinics. The decision was a huge victory for pro-life sidewalk counselors who provide women with abortion alternatives.
In their ruling, the Supreme Court struck down a Massachusetts law that created a 35-foot buffer zone restricting pro-life advocates from speaking with people entering abortion facilities.
Saying the abortion buffer zone is inconsistent with the First Amendment, the Supreme Court ruled that that the buffer zone violated the First Amendment because it restricts access to public way[s] and sidewalk[s], places that have traditionally been open for speech activities.
Now, Massachusetts lawmakers have responded with a vengeance passing a radical bill that prohibits free speech for pro-lifers seeking to help women.
Today, Governor Deval Patrick, who is a staunch abortion proponent and a former board member of Planned Parenthood, signed the bill into law.
The attorney for Eleanor McCullen, the lead plaintiff in the 9-0 decision in McCullen v. Coakley, emailed LifeNews about the bill. Michael DePrimo told LifeNews.com:
The new buffer zone law is a backdoor attempt to interfere with the constitutional right of free speech in the service of women seeking abortion whose minds are not made up women who are looking for the hope, help, love, and concrete aid offered by Eleanor McCullen and other peaceful sidewalk counselors. This new law chills life-saving speech by threatening massive civil fines for non-violent acts such as peacefully offering a leaflet of information to passersby on a public sidewalk.
The reality is that individuals in the abortion industry have a business incentive to falsely characterize any attempt at pro-life communication on the public ways outside abortion clinics as a form of harassment or intimidation, no matter how peaceful. It is important for law enforcement to understand that momentary attempts at peaceful communication to offer hope, help and love are constitutionally protected expressive conduct, despite the legislatures rejection of an amendment offered by Representative Jim Lyons that would have made that expressly clear.
If a citizen is threatening public safety, he or she can be arrested under current state or federal law, and then enjoined by a judge based on evidence and testimony. The new law signed by the Governor ignores those common resources, and instead invites state censorship by enabling police to order peaceful citizens to stand on a 25-foot line for the remainder of the abortion clinics business hours. The new law is unconstitutional not only because it is vague and overbroad, but also because it purports to grant to law enforcement the power to issue a temporary restraining ordera power that may only be exercised by courts.
The first amendment protection of free speech cannot be placed behind painted lines. My client Eleanor McCullen and the other peaceful sidewalk counselors will continue to serve the women of Boston who deserve real alternatives to abortion. We will closely monitor law enforcements use of the new law to ensure that our clients peaceful exercise of first amendment rights is not infringed.”
Anne Fox of Massachusetts Citizens for Life told LifeNews that abortion activists told legislators during debate in the legislature false tales of pro-lifers harassing women.
Planned Parenthood employs a huge number of people in the state who all drone on about their abuse by pro-lifers. No legislator picked up on the pro-lifers demands for pictures or videos of the alleged incidents, she said.
Fox said pro-abortion lawmakers will rush the bill through the legislature.
As fast as they can get it through the House and signed, Massachusetts will have a law which is worse than the old Buffer Zone. It effectively creates a 25-foot zone and the penalties are scary $50,000 and three years in jail, she said. The legislature is in the process of disrespecting the Supreme Court and penalizing law-abiding citizens. I do think all the other places that have suspended their Buffer Zones will pass laws like this one. At least Massachusetts will have company in its foolishness.
During the hearing, when the pro-lifers had a chance to speak, Eleanor McCullen, an elderly woman who has spent years helping women find abortion alternatives, and other pro-life advocates explained that it would be counterproductive to their efforts to save babies from abortion and help women to treat pregnant women badly.
Phil Moran, the local lawyer for the McCullen win, compared the new zone to the penalty box where the counselors would always be, Fox told LifeNews about the hearing. State Representatives Jim Lyons and Marc Lombardo spoke. Jim pointed out that these same people say The Supreme court has spoken about Roe v Wade. Now they have no use for the Court. Marc stated that this proposed law is so outrageous that it will definitely be appealed and cited the costs in time and money that will be associated with the appeal the McCullen case has already cost many millions.
Pat Stewart, MCFL Executive Director, gave impressive testimony citing 20 actual laws that already cover blockading, harassing, etc.
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Once they win it “Settled Law”.
Hillary Clinton’s possible VP or a potential Supreme Court nominee.
Hillary Clinton’s possible VP or a potential Supreme Court nominee.
What is it about FREEDOM OF SPEECH that these people don’t get?
This will make it to the Supreme Court. Remember all those rights we had when you were a kid? I do. I have watched them tick away, little by little, for five decades while the vast majority of American citizens were too busy to be bothered. Do you think we can be bothered now?
This is rewarding feminazis for their generous contributions.
Why can’t our side get one of those rulings where the state has to pay $10,000 per day as long as it refuses to live by the law? Sure seems to work for the Left.
If Jesse Jackson and Mrs. Robinson had a baby.
“Once they win it Settled Law.”
Yes, Roe is settled once and for all,
but Citizens United is a travesty
that needs to be addressed immediately.
UNCONSTITUTIONAL , they use it for a Gay old time
The lower lip of that governor has always made me nervous...
They get it. that’s why they hate it and fight it so hard.
Sounds like they are completely ignoring a supreme court decision.
Isn’t that contempt of court? and punishable as such?
In every jurisdiction with which I am familiar, 'contempt of court' is cited ONLY when there is either 1) a direct act of disrespect in court to a trial judge or panel of judges, 2) a direct act of disrespect to a judge or judges in camera, as for instance in a judge' chambers when opposing counsel is present, or 3) less enforceable in most jurisdictions, but still present on many states' books, a direct act of disrespect outside the courtroom, but which is unmistakeably directed to/at a trial judge, as for instance counsel walking out of the courtroom onto the steps of the courts building and calling a press conference and stating (say) that the judge is an incompetent piece of crap who has been bought off.
This last example is more and more problematic for courts (for whom I shed exactly NO tears), because of more and more civil actions for malfeasance and/or extrajudicial behavious occurring. (Awwwww, poor babies, eh?)
I may well have missed something, but ignoring a supreme court decision will never, I should imagine, involve contempt of court -- possibly excepting such an action by a igh official of the executive or legislative branch -- because 1) the requirement of directness, and 2) because goobermint putzes in the courts, whether in the executive or legislative branch, haven't the stomach to try to bring a contempt of court action against another branch of the goobermint.
Me? I sit quietly and have contempt for the whole lot, judiciary included.
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Patrick and Obama are very close. He probably believes that he is immune to criticism.
The next lawsuit needs to include a 500 billion dollar fine against the state. If the USSC feels dissed enough then they just might award it.
thanks so much for that great response.
But if you’ll be kind enough to indulge my curiosity again—What if just to illustrate an analogy to what these guys have done, we take it the nearly opposite direction.
What if say- a court says, for example, Georgia’s state ban on gay marriage is ucnstitutional. Then in response to this the Georgia legislature enacts a law that says no same sex marriage will be recognized by the state, and anyone who gets same sex married has to pay a fine of $50,000. Would the court do anything about this? and if so, what can the court do?
The answer is that any given Legislature can pass any law it likes, subject to the signature of the chief executive of the jurisdiction. As regards passage of a statute, courts have no de se jurisdiction, or, in plain English, they've nothing at all to say until and unless some party brings suit about the statute in question. Instances abound in American history wherein the court says X and the Legislature involved says (effectively), "screw you" and passes a statute saying NOT X.
Then, in your example, some party brings suit on some sort of grounds, arguing that the new law in "unconstitutional". If the same court as ruled originally should hear this case also, likely said court will rule the new statute unconstitutional again.
Assuming such dead-set opposition, what will likely happen at some point is either 1) due to retirement or impeachment, one of the sitting judges on the SC will go, the chief executive will appoint another, and the case will ultimately be resolved, probably in favour of the Legislature, or, 2) the Legislature will pass a different statute limiting or prohibiting the court(s) from deciding such cases as are now in question (you think not? See Art III, Sec 2 of the US Constitution, wherein such power is expressly granted to the Regress, er, Congress. Many states' Constitutions have similar clauses.)
At any rate, the current system DOES provide an ultimate decision procedure between 'warring' powers of the legislative and judicial branches.
As a side note, pls always remember that the Framers put the legislative branch FIRST and the judicial branch THIRD, and with very good reason, having been close students of history, and such "judiciary" outrages of medieval courts as star chambers, trial by ordeal, presumption of attainder and corruption of blood. It is, therefore, the clear intent of the Constitution as written (not as "interpreted" since, of course) that the legislature is supreme over the judiciary when push comes to shove.
Best to you, and, oh yes (sorry!), go Cards!
ugh I hate the cardinals, LOL :)
Thanks again for another great response.
It looks like under the system, the courts and the legislature could just battle back and forth indefinitely till one gives in to the other.
I was just wondering because if the massachusettes governor and legislature are going to disregard the supreme court’s ruling re speech zones, then what’s to stop another more conservative legislature/governer from disobeying a courts “gay marriage is unconstitutional” decision or perhaps defying roe v. wade itself?
then again tho, if that were to happen the media would go after them like rabid dogs, and most likely they’d fold under the pressure.
As far as checks and balances I guess one branch has got to be on top. It seems like marbury vs madison (sort of) settled that by the court jumping in and saying effectively “it’s us”. (looks like a power grab to me)
I can safely say this tho, the ability of just one circuit court judge to nullify a governor plus a legislature, or even a president plus a congress on a whim is absurd. There’s nothing co-equal in that.
The too-rare assertion of these powers is, of course, due to the almost complete gutlessness of legislatures, federal or state.
There were a couple of flaws in the Constitution as drafted, the first observed in 1800 and corrected by the 12th Amendment, but the principal flaw -- still exstant, dammit -- is the Constitution's making of the removal of ANY federal official so difficult. Impeachment and removal by supermajority ONLY?? Faugh!
On the simple and accurate presumption that 5% of people, at minimum, are either corrupt or incompetent, the Constitution should have embodied some sort of provision calling for the culling of such federal officials every year or every other year. The problem here, of course, is how to keep such provision from being "gamed" by the corrupt bastards in DC to, by design, cull the honest and competent folks.
In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellateJurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.
It would certainly make sense to make legislatures have the final say since they are made up of elected people instead of appointed (altho if memory serves some bodies weren't elected by the people at the founding) but unlike a president (or governor) where people could make a mistake and put 1 idiot and/or a melovolent in charge (like Obama who is IMO both) with a legislature there are numbers so at least some of them should be competent/decent.
As far as Ideas. term limits has lost it's momentum, but I can say I cannot stand seeing politicians making 40 and 50 year careers out of what should be a temporary job. granted that might get rid of some of the very few good ones. But IMO so be it, nothing is perfect.
I believe Bork had the idea that congress could overturn a supreme court ruling with congressional supermajorities. Seems like a good one, esp if the supermajority is not insurmountably large.
Lastly, one of my own-- one lowly judge, should not be a able to say, for example, gay marriage is unconstitutional and then its just wiped out even if a pres and congress said otherwise. It should at least have to go all the way through the appeals process to the supreme court before any change occurs.
Unfortunately with people being imperfect there will never be a perfect system. A democracy can only be as good as its people and our people are failing (granted a lot of that has to do with the media that is unerinforming/misinforming them, but still they are failing)
The Federalist Papers make clear that the Legislative branch has primacy, with the Judicial branch intended to be the weakest of the three.
Note that most such controversies could be resolved without resort to Art. III Sec. 2 by men of generally good will who have respect for the Constitution. Doesn't even require a supermajority in either house of the Regress, just requires a statute. Given that Reid, McConnell, Weepy John and Bela Pelosi now "lead" the Regress, I estimate the chances of my condition above occurrin are, as the mathematicians say, "within epsilon of zero".