Writing for the Chicago Sun-Times, reliably left-wing columnist Neil Steinberg is disgusted by the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling against “buffer zones” at abortion clinics, saying that the unanimous decision proves women in the country are “second-class citizens.”
Last week the Court unanimously rejected a Massachusetts law that mandated a 35-foot no-go zone from the street to the entrance of an abortion clinic, a zone where anti-abortion activists were prevented from approaching women attempting to enter.
The anti-abortion activists maintained that preventing them from approaching women entering such clinics was an illegal limit of their First Amendment right to free speech. Every single justice agreed, including all the liberal ones.
But the Sun-Times’ Steinberg feels he knows better than the justices and decided that this re-affirmation of free speech is actually just another way to “deny women their rights.”
Steinberg chose some odd comparisons to illustrate his June 29 article, too. He said that America would be against the SCOTUS decision if “only women got divorced” and anti-divorce activists could confront women at a law office. He also wondered how long America would put up with free speech if people “led bands of believers to try to persuade people not to buy cars” in front of car dealerships.
But his biggest problem was that he thinks the decision is a strike against the “truth” that anti-abortion activists are just like those Westboro wackos who wave signs that read “God Hates Fags” at our veterans’ funerals. He also thinks that anti-abortion activists are “religious fanatics.”
Anti-abortion activists are a “threat,” Steinberg insisted, and the SCOTUS ruling doesn’t take that into account.
The implicit threat, conveyed by tone, volume, proximity and past attacks, carries a burden that the law doesn’t see. Like Westboro, they carefully choose a moment of vulnerability. We are so accustomed to these encounters, so inured with their talk of notional babies, we forget that, stripped of dogma, these are groups trying to press their religious beliefs upon the unwilling.
Claiming that “the powerful always see to themselves,” Steinberg went on to employ some rhetoric about women that old-fashioned feminists might not appreciate. At the end of his piece, he calls women “powerless,” for instance, “particularly young women.”
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.