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Supreme Court Unanimously Strikes Down Protest-Free Zones at MA Abortion Clinics

Supreme Court Unanimously Strikes Down Protest-Free Zones at MA Abortion Clinics

HOUSTON, Texas–On Thursday the Supreme Court unanimously struck down a law in Massachusetts which prohibited protesting near abortion clinics. The law–which banned protesting from 35 feet within the entrance of abortion clinics–violated First Amendment rights of pro life protesters who wished to demonstrate at the entrance of abortion clinics peacefully.

In response to the Supreme Court’s ruling, Texas Senator Ted Cruz said in a statement, “The Supreme Court vindicated the First Amendment rights of citizens who peacefully counseled women about alternatives to abortion at a Massachusetts clinic.  Once again, the Supreme Court unanimously rejected the litigating position of the Obama Administration, which opposed free speech rights in an amicus brief.”

He continued, “The Court rightly invalidated a Massachusetts law that suppressed peaceful, non-obstructive speech from public sidewalks near abortion clinics.”

Although the court’s ruling was unanimous, the justices had varied reasons behind their decisions, according to the New York Times.  

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote the majority opinion, arguing that the state could explore other options for preventing harassment at abortion clinics. Liberal justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan joined Roberts. 

Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in a separate opinion that the Massachusetts law was “unconstitutional root and branch.” According to the Associated Press, Scalia criticized Roberts’ reasoning, which in his view gave “abortion-rights advocates a pass when it comes to suppressing the free-speech rights of their opponents.”

The law was initially questioned when a grandmother from Boston, Eleanor McCullen, sued with other activists over the restrictions. The group claimed they were significantly limited in their protest efforts at various Planned Parenthood locations. 

Pro life advocates point out that there are already various law in place–both state and federal–that protect health care professionals and patients at abortion clinics. 

Follow Kristin Tate @KristinBTate.

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