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Constitutional Law — freedom of speech

By: WISCONSIN LAW JOURNAL STAFF//June 26, 2014//

Constitutional Law — freedom of speech

By: WISCONSIN LAW JOURNAL STAFF//June 26, 2014//

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U.S. Supreme Court

Civil

Constitutional Law — freedom of speech

A 35-foot buffer zone around abortion clinics violates the First Amendment.

The buffer zones burden substantially more speech than necessary to achieve the Commonwealth’s asserted interests. Subsection (e) of the Act already prohibits deliberate obstruction of clinic entrances. Massachusetts could also enact legislation similar to the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act of 1994, 18 U. S. C. §248(a)(1), which imposes criminal and civil sanctions for obstructing, intimidating, or interfering with persons obtaining or providing reproductive health services. Obstruction of clinic driveways can readily be addressed through existing local traffic ordinances. While the Commonwealth contends that individuals can inadvertently obstruct access to clinics simply by gathering in large numbers, that problem could be addressed through a law requiring crowds blocking a clinic entrance to disperse for a limited period when ordered to do so by the police. In any event, crowding appears to be a problem only at the Boston clinic, and even there, only on Saturday mornings.

708 F. 3d 1, reversed and remanded.

12-1168 McCullen v. Coakley

Roberts, C.J.; Scalia, J., concurring; Alito, J., concurring.

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