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Supreme Court Arguments: Can Free Speech Be Suppressed Outside Abortion Clinics?
Big Government ^ | 1/17/14 | KEN KLUKOWSKI

Posted on 01/17/2014 3:04:42 AM PST by markomalley

How far can lawmaking go in creating a buffer zone around abortion clinics to ensure women can go to the clinic before violating the First Amendment rights of those who want to talk to women about alternatives to abortion? 

On Jan. 15, the Supreme Court heard arguments in McCullen v. Coakley against a Massachusetts law under which a line is painted on the ground 35 feet from the door of abortion clinics. Anyone who enters that zone to speak against abortion to a woman can go to prison for committing a crime.

Eleanor McCullen is an elderly woman who counsels younger women who are pregnant to have their baby instead of an abortion. She is challenging the Massachusetts law, which was upheld by the First Circuit federal appeals court in Boston.

McCullen was represented by Prof. Mark Rienzi of Catholic University. Rienzi began, “This Court has held that the public sidewalks are a natural and proper place for free citizens to exchange information and ideas, and for that reason the Court has held that public sidewalks occupy a special position in First Amendment analysis.”

Justice Sonia Sotomayor compared pro-lifers’ speech outside abortion clinics to protests at military funerals. “So protesters like the one we had in the Schneider case at a funeral of a veteran can go right up to the public sidewalk outside the church and put up the signs that they did… That’s okay with you?” Sotomayor said both share one thing in common, that “there is the potential for disruption because of the strong sentiments around that.”

Rienzi responded that this law is targeting a very different type of expression. He contended that “a law that makes it illegal to even engage in consensual conversation…

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Extended News; Government; US: Massachusetts
KEYWORDS: 121168; bufferzone; coakley; mccullen

1 posted on 01/17/2014 3:04:42 AM PST by markomalley
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To: markomalley

I remember the days of Clinton’s total power before Newt Gingrich and 1994. There was a bill in Congress about punishment for protesters outside abortion clinics.

The proposed legislation was punitive and draconian. It made the offense of protesting outside an abortion clinic a 5 year/$250,000 fine penalty.

Republicans in the House pleaded and begged for the Democrats not to do this. They did it anyway, coldly, dispassionately and without comment.

2 posted on 01/17/2014 3:23:27 AM PST by Gaffer
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To: Gaffer

” They did it anyway, coldly, dispassionately and without comment.”

Is this still the law? (No, I didn’t read the article. Some subjects I stay away from for blood pressure reasons.)

3 posted on 01/17/2014 3:28:04 AM PST by Gen.Blather
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To: Gen.Blather

I don’t know to tell you the truth. I just remember it being passed in the House - I watched it on CSPAN and was stunned. I believe it became law but could be wrong.

Here is an FBI link on it. Although the punishments indicated aren’t what I remember:

4 posted on 01/17/2014 3:36:08 AM PST by Gaffer
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To: markomalley

There really is no Supreme Court anymore, Roberts killed it.

5 posted on 01/17/2014 7:30:45 AM PST by Kenny
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