a limited constitutional right to succeed in having close, one-on-one encounters with patients
Citing data by abortion foes who insist they engage only in benign counseling, the Chief Justice said they have had “far less frequent and far less success” in getting even to talk to patients personally or hand them literature since the buffer zone was imposed.
Supreme Court on Wednesday unanimously upheld the Pentagon's right to exclude protesters from military bases, even while allowing easements and exceptions for highways and other civilian uses. The 9-0 opinion, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, was based on a federal law and not the First Amendment claims of John Dennis Apel, a previously expelled vandal who argued he had a right to demonstrate in an authorized protest zone.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday unanimously rejected a lawsuit brought by anti-Bush protesters who claimed the Secret Service violated the First Amendment in 2004 by moving them away from President George W. Bush while allowing pro-Bush demonstrators to remain closer to him.
The U.S. Supreme Court, which Thursday struck down a Massachusetts law that established a 35-foot buffer around abortion clinics, enjoys its own protest-free zone. A federal law bars protests from the white marble plaza of the U.S. Supreme Court building, an irony that was not lost on supporters of abortion rights.
And a lot of the lawbreaking we witness is ephemeral. Sure, one protester has consistently been standing right in front of clients and trying to stop them from reaching the door, but if the police aren't there to witness it, we're not sure we're going to get anywhere by calling them.
Petitioners wish to converse with their fellow citizens about an important subject on the public streets and sidewalks
I was reading @ClinicEscort this morning and getting extremely bummed about the stories that she or he was telling under the #notcounseling hashtag. Super upsetting.
While the Act may allow petitioners to “protest” outside the buffer zones, petitioners are not protestors; they seek not merely to express their opposition to abortion, but to engage in personal, caring, consensual conversations with women about various alternatives. It is thus no answer to say that petitioners can still be seen and heard by women within the buffer zones. If all that the women can see and hear are vociferous opponents of abortion, then the buffer zones have effectively stifled petitioners’ message.
It is no accident that public streets and sidewalks havedeveloped as venues for the exchange of ideas. Even today, they remain one of the few places where a speaker can be confident that he is not simply preaching to the choir. With respect to other means of communication, anindividual confronted with an uncomfortable message can always turn the page, change the channel, or leave the Web site. Not so on public streets and sidewalks. There, a listener often encounters speech he might otherwise tune out.
BOSTON — Lorraine Loewen, 74, says she comes here once a week to demonstrate against abortion outside of the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts health care center.
On Friday, the morning after the Supreme Court struck down restrictions that had created no-protest buffer zones near abortion clinics, she stood inside the yellow line on the pavement that marked a 35-foot radius around the clinic’s entrance.
Ms. Loewen, a retiree from Dedham, Mass., approached a woman and a man who had climbed out of a taxi and were walking toward the clinic, which provides an array of women’s health services, including abortions, and spoke softly in the woman’s ear. She handed the woman a pamphlet depicting a woman’s face and the words, “It’s your choice.”
“I asked her if we could be of any help,” Ms. Loewen said, adding that she preferred talking close up with the people going to the clinic rather than yelling at them from outside the line.
On Friday, Ms. Loewen and a handful of other demonstrators were among the first anti-abortion activists to exert their restored rights, as a few police officers looked on and a volunteer escort stood ready to bring patients inside the clinic.
Maryland now has a law imposing restrictions on
funeral picketing, ... [citation and an aside omitted] ... Maryland's law, however, was not in effect at the time of the events at issue here, so we have no occasion to consider how it might apply to facts such as those before us, or whether it or similar regulations are constitutional.5
5: The Maryland law prohibits picketing within 100 feet of a funeral
service or funeral procession; Westboro’s picketing would have complied
with that restriction.
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