The Supreme Court made an announcement today that it will be reviewing a decision of the First Circuit upholding a Massachusetts law that restricts free speech of pro-life advocates despite liberties they "rightfully" have.
In McCullen v. Coakley, seven Massachusetts residents challenged a state statute creating a 35-foot fixed buffer zone around entrances of abortion clinics. They were offering pro-life counseling outside of the clinics.
The law calls for only employees of the clinic being allowed in that buffer zone. The Life Legal Defense Foundation filed an amici curiae brief in the Supreme Court arguing that this buffer zone is unconstitutional and not conducive to the rights afforded by protests.
"We are delighted that the Court is going to weigh in on this clear case of viewpoint discrimination," stated the Executive Director of Life Legal Defense Foundation, Dana Cody, through TC Public Relations. "Activists who make disturbances at military funerals, animal rights protests, and 'occupy' demonstrations are not bound by the sort of restrictions applied to peaceful pro-life witnesses who invite women to learn about abortion alternatives. It's a true double standard and an unbelievable violation of First Amendment rights."
The First Circuit justified their case by saying pro-life free speech has the same negative affects as adult themed bookstores and should have special zoning restrictions.
"Just as 'adult' bookstores and theatres have harmful 'secondary effects' that allow cities to impose special zoning restrictions, so too [does], pro-life sidewalk counseling and picketing have harmful 'secondary effects' that governments can mitigate by imposing buffer zones and other restrictions," First Circuit claims in their case.
"In fact, what governments most fear about pro-life speech is not any 'secondary effect.' It is that women heading into clinics are hearing the truth about abortion," said Cody.
"Just the fact that the Court has taken the case should give pause to San Francisco, Chicago, and other cities that have recently imposed more draconian restrictions on pro-life speech," Cody continued. "We are optimistic that the Court will not only strike down the Massachusetts law, but also revisit some of its own prior precedents that have led lower courts to believe that, as a matter of law, pro-life speech is less deserving of protection."
The full court briefing can be read here.