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Unreasonable buffer zones at abortion clinics struck down by Supreme Court

The US Supreme Court spanked the abortion clinic's unreasonable buffer zones by a 9-0 decision.
The US Supreme Court spanked the abortion clinic's unreasonable buffer zones by a 9-0 decision.

It finally came down to whose rights were really being violated.

The United States Supreme Court unanimously concluded yesterday that Massachusetts’ buffer zone was a violation of the First Amendment of the US Constitution. The nation’s highest court ruled that the 35-foot buffer zone that restricted abortion protesters went too far by “stripping protesters of any free speech rights”.

“The buffer zones burden substantially more speech than necessary,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts for the Supreme Court.

California was intently watching as San Francisco has a similar buffer zone which extends 25-feet around its clinics. A long history of court battles concerning the regulation of protests around abortion clinics has taken place in California and was backing Massachusetts in the case. A total of 13 states consolidated their efforts in urging the Supreme Court to uphold the buffer laws.

There are several buffer zone laws that have been implemented in Bay Area cities as Oakland, Sacramento, and San Jose for regulating protesters at abortion clinics that will probably survive since their buffer zones are not as aggressive as the ones governing abortion clinics in Massachusetts and San Francisco.

Colorado’s buffer zone of 8-feet was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2000 since it did not place an unreasonable restriction to free speech. San Jose’s buffer zone was modeled after the Colorado law and in all likelihood will not be struck down.

The balance of rights on the issue of abortion has long been a contentious issue concerning whose rights were really being violated. Trumping the rights of others in order to validate you own rights is still a core issue on various points of the abortion issue. The Supreme Court substantiating the right to protest at abortion clinics cannot be unreasonably abridged.

“The government cannot reserve its public sidewalks for Planned Parenthood as if their message is the only one women should be allowed to hear”, exclaimed lead counsel Mark Rienzi who is a professor of constitutional law at the Catholic University of America in Washington D.C.

In a strong rebuke to the forces of the abortion industry every justice that is liberal or conservative on the Supreme Court concurred with the assessment of Professor Rienzi, 9-0.

Three of the justices that agreed with the outcome of the decision would have gone further by abolishing buffer zones completely by saying, “Today’s opinion carries forward this Court’s practice of giving abortion rights advocates a pass when it comes to suppressing the free-speech rights of their opponents,” Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in a strong warning to abortion advocates.

While extremism is being accused upon pro-life forces by abortion advocates, it is the abortion forces that are being chided for extremism by the Supreme Court.

“Here (Massachusetts) has pursued those interests by the extreme step of closing a substantial portion of a traditional public forum to all speakers. It has done so without seriously addressing the problem through alternatives that leave the forum open for its time honored purposes”, the high court stipulated.

Squashing the rights of others has never done well before the Supreme Court.

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