Supreme Court Rules Against Abortion Clinic Buffer Zone Law

In a unanimous opinion, the Supreme Court struck down a Massachusetts law that requires protestors and demonstrators to stay at least 35 feet away from the entrances of abortion clinics. The justices said that such a measure is a violation of individuals’ freedom of speech. The lead plaintiff in the case, anti-abortion activist Eleanor McCullen with the group Operation Rescue, has been standing outside of a Planned Parenthood facility in Boston several times a week for more than a decade.

In the court’s opinion against the buffer zones, Chief Justice Roberts said, “It is no accident that public streets and sidewalks have developed as venues for the exchange of ideas … With respect to other means of communication, an individual confronted with an uncomfortable message can always turn the page, change the channel, or leave the Web site. Thus, even though the Act says nothing about speech on its face, there is no doubt—and respondents do not dis¬pute—that it restricts access to traditional public fora and is therefore subject to First Amendment scrutiny” …

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