Home / General / The Supreme Court and the Buffer Zone

The Supreme Court and the Buffer Zone


As with the EPA ruling earlier in the week, I’d say that at least it could have been a lot worse.

Elsewhere, see Sarah Posner on “sidewalk counselors,” Simon Waxman on ditto, and Dahlia Lithwick notes (implicitly reubtting the silly first section of the Scalia concurrence) the massive buffer zone around the Supreme Court.

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  • Autonomous Coward

    I think the time has come to revisit the question of Mrs. Scalia’s anus and the Mr. Scalia’s penis’ proximity to that hallowed orifice.

    Will “Fat Tony” Scalia order her buffer zone removed?



    • MAJeff

      It may more likely be a case of Satan’s penis and the Justice’s ass.

    • gocart mozart

      it’s illegal for a prick to touch an asshole in this state.” – Molly Ivins


      • MAJeff

        One of my favorite pieces of hers.

        • tsam

          Gawd I miss her.

  • pseudonymous in nc

    (implicitly reubtting the silly first section of the Scalia concurrence)

    And the Roberts opinion, which spends far too much time implicitly praising those nice little old ladies who spend their days loitering with intent. No need to focus on Cardinal Scalia when you’ve got Antipope Roberts to deal with.

    • Linnaeus

      Yes, one could say this is the Avignon court.

  • efgoldman

    Indeed, in 2000, the Court upheld Colorado’s buffer zone law in Hill v. Colorado.

    Did they explain the difference? For those of us, like me, who aren’t attorneys and don’t play one on TV.

    • Ken

      Eight years of GWB appointments?

    • Pat

      I think that a major aspect is that the Colorado law put a buffer zone around all clinics to protect patient privacy and access, whereas this law only affected clinics that serve women’s health.

      If parking was in a covered area with restricted access (patients only, no loitering) from which the clinic, one of several, was accessed, you could keep them all out. But it would be less convenient in a lot of places. I’m in the Northeast, and we have parking like that because of inclement weather.

  • T.E. Shaw

    The comparison with Riley v. California is instructive. SCOTUS has zero ability to put itself in the shoes of other people (or even sympathy with such lesser beings), but when an issue comes up that implicates aspects of their own lives, they react. Unfortunately for Massachusetts, SCOTUS can embrace a under-the-table double standard with buffer zones in a way that it can’t with cell-phone searches (“a warrant is required, but only for the cellphones belonging to members of the Federalist Society”).

    • T.E. Shaw

      *maintain sympathy*. Also not sure why I used two different improper spellings of “cell phone,” but whatever.

      • Hyphenating “cell phone” as an adjective preceding a noun is quite proper. Don’t beat yourself up over that one.

  • The ruling seems to’ve made Eugene Volokh sad, which I take to confirm Lemieux’s “coulda been worse.”

    • Joe


    • sharculese

      Wait, the Volokh’s are small minded bullies who don’t consider women people? But they’ve been so good at hiding that up until now!

      • Jon C.

        No, the Volokhs also grant personhood to women who hang around outside reproductive health clinics, harassing pregnant women.

      • Joe

        I had some fun, or something, pushing back on EV’s scorn of efforts to deal with harassment (sorry for those who find this word so vague, including many regulars there) in high schools.

  • Dan Mulligan

    One of the most striking things to me, in this opinion and others by this Court, is how many facts they just make up. Roberts says the state could have done this, the police could do that ….where the hell is that in the record?

    • Snarki, child of Loki

      Oh, don’t forget that them poor wimmins having to get past the gauntlet of protesters: they could open-carry!

      I confidently predict that, after this ruling, the anti-choice protesters will get so vicious and obstructive that it just cries out for a 2nd amendment solution. Probably involving a truck-mounted gatling gun.

      • Este

        I’ve seen bumper stickers from pro-choice gun owners saying “I’m Pro-Choice…and I Shoot Back.”

        With all the caveats that I know it’s not simple or necessarily practical to do this, and no abortion clinic patient should have to do this, I still find it a tempting fantasy to consider heavily armed women marching into a Planned Parenthood.

        Or just heavily armed escorts standing there silently.

      • Oh, don’t forget that them poor wimmins having to get past the gauntlet of protesters: they could open-carry!

        It does suggest a T-shirt: “I’m Carrying … AND I’m Carrying.”

    • L2P

      In practice it works the opposite. If it’s not affirmatively proven not to be true, the courts kind of assume that it is, or could be, and so it’s a thing. It’s the opposite of rational basis review, where the government can assume anything it wants to justify a law.

  • KatWillow

    Doesn’t the Supreme Court itself have a rather large “buffer zone”?

  • Joe

    I’m unsure if a buffer zone around the White House, Capitol or Supreme Court building is exactly the same thing. For one thing, the average “street counselor” here can’t just (since they don’t know the person’s info) send a letter. We also have higher standards for protection regarding threats to justices. Is that a problem too? From Scott’s article:

    According to the Court, Massachusetts could—as many other states have—protect clinic access without creating a buffer zone that extends onto public sidewalks.

    He replies that it is not clear if the alternatives were as workable. A dissenting opinion might have helped here, but it’s unclear. And, if you allow more here, other “counselors” or protests might be affected, some of which are both left leaning and raucous and repeatedly not to receptive individuals.

    I can imagine, e.g., gay protestors being arrested outside of a church because they are not far enough, or animal rights protestors outside a factory or even supermarket. A good amount of the critics here are upset at the tone and asshole nature of protests. But, at some point, that is allowed by the 1A.

    This will depend on how lower courts apply it — let’s see if they take Roberts seriously about alternative means and more evidence of problems.

    • Anonymous

      “For one thing, the average “street counselor” here can’t just (since they don’t know the person’s info) send a letter.”

      We’re drowning in all sorts of hysterical, anti-abortion rhetoric. There is no substantive loss to people having their right to speak under the Massachusetts buffer zone law.

      The “sidewalk counselors” are interested in harassment, not speech.

      • Joe

        I’m unsure how to apply this “it’s not really important extra speech bad faith” test in real life. “Hysteria” is present on a range of issues. People out there on the front-lines are there for a variety of motives. Assuming every single person outside of abortion clinics who want to talk to people here want to “harass” them is overkill. I’m sure people think the same thing about other issues. You think people don’t think the only reason gay rights protest outside of churches is to harass church goers? That they are “hysterical” too?

        But, yeah, abortion protestors are wrong, that’s different.

        • I just dont see how private harrasment of specific individuals becomes protected political speech on “the issues of the day.” A medical procedure that is happening to me is not a proper subject of public debate.

          • gone2ground

            Whatever happened to MYOB?

          • That assumes the conclusion. Is what you eat a private matter? I would assume so. But does that mean a vegan protester has no right to stand on a sidewalk and try to verbally convince people not to go into a McDonald’s?

            The First Amendment can’t take sides as to whether an abortion is a medical procedure or a murder.

            The thing that makes the buffer zone cases close is not the nature of the pprocedure but the fact that the protesters are ghouls and many of them do not recognize the difference between speech and obstruction. In other words, if the method of protest were a table on the sidewalk with some literature and a sign that said “choose life”, it would be without doubt protected speech. But in the context of officious “counselors” blocking people from accessing the clinics, a prophylactic buffer zone presents a different issue.

            • redwoods

              “The First Amendment can’t take sides as to whether an abortion is a medical procedure or a murder.”

              But the state has already sided on that, it’s not, and should not be up to any more public debate than getting your corns removed is.

              • Read West Virginia v. Barnette and get back to me. “If there’s any fixed star…”

            • gone2ground

              The thing that is different is that not only was The Massachusetts law enacted after two murders by anti abortion fanatics, but also that these fanatics have shown violent tendencies that the state has a duty to protect the public from. So far the vegans havent started killing anyone who doesn’t agree with them.

              And as noted here it isnt an accident that the plaintiffs chose a little old lady to be the face of their lawsuit rather than the murderous creeps already in prison.

            • Rugosa

              What I find baffling is the notion that the “sidewalk counselors” have the right to “counsel” people who do not want to be counseled.

              • Pat

                We could hand out big signs in the parking lot that say, “Fuck off, I’m getting a pap smear” to patients that they could use to club their way to the door.

                • Origami Isopod, Commisar [sic] of Ideology for the Bolsheviks

                  Women shouldn’t have to pretend they’re not getting an abortion in order to not be harassed.

                • Pat

                  How about, “Fuck off, I’m not talking to you” then?

                  Not that I’m saying it to you, Ms Isopod, but to put on a large, club-like sign.

            • Brien Jackson

              Well sure, if anti-abortion protestors didn’t act like anti-abortion protestors, this would be entirely different!

              • Yeah, but the point is, you want the legal rule to be tailored to the actual conduct that makes them different from other protesters.

                A lot of legal reasoning consists of generating legal principles that apply across a lot of cases without leading to bad results.

                In this instance, while its understandable WHY people say “why should someone have the right to speak to me when I am getting a medical procedure?”, that principle can lead to a lot of bad results. Not only to a pro-lifer engaging in a more peaceful protest, but also to anyone else speaking outside a medical facility. For instance, what about a union with signs saying “go to a different hospital, this one is anti-union”? Should they be able to talk to people coming in to get private medical procedures?

                Note that it doesn’t work to say “well, this is just about abortions”. Shouldn’t, even in the context of an abortion clinic, a union be able to protest and say “don’t use this one, use the one across town that is a union shop”?

                In other words, it isn’t the fact that they are protesting an abortion clinic or speaking to women who are seeking abortions that is the problem. It’s the fact that they are obstructing and harassing. Which means if there’s going to be a buffer zone, it has to be tailored to that specific problem.

        • cpinva

          “As Physicians for Reproductive Board Chair Nancy Stanwood said, “We respect the right of those who disagree with us to voice their opposition; however, we believe that the same respect should be afforded to the right to access health care services free from harassment and violence.””

          “I just dont see how private harrasment of specific individuals becomes protected political speech on “the issues of the day.” A medical procedure that is happening to me is not a proper subject of public debate.”

          this is the problem with the ruling. the court has decided that your right to go about your business in public, without being harassed, is superseded by the harasser’s right to harass you in public. if it were an individual doing it, to another individual, on a public sidewalk, and refused to leave the person alone, they would be arrested for assault, regardless of the nature of the harassment.

          the court seems to be saying women seeking an abortion are now a special, unprotected class of citizen, not qualifying for 14A status.

          I predict this opinion will end badly, with someone getting hurt or killed, and the court will disavow any responsibility for it.

          • David M. Nieporent

            if it were an individual doing it, to another individual, on a public sidewalk, and refused to leave the person alone, they would be arrested for assault, regardless of the nature of the harassment.

            If what they were doing actually qualified as assault — of course, it doesn’t — then they could be arrested for assault, and there’d be no need for this law.

            • DocAmazing

              That assumes that cops are neutral parties in these matters.

              Much of they time, they aren’t.

              I’ve done clinic protection work in the 1980s. I had an interesting experience: some suburban-dad type ran up to a young woman and thrust his face into hers and started threatening her. I came over and thrust my own face into Suburban Dad’s. A cop standing nearby threatened me with arrest and backed off only after a group of women with a video camera surrounded him and pointed out that Suburban Dad had been threatening women for much of the morning, they had it on tape, and the cop had done nothing about it.

              Buffer zones would never have com into being had police reliably done their jobs in the first place.

        • Brien Jackson

          “Assuming every single person outside of abortion clinics who want to talk to people here want to “harass” them is overkill.”

          No, not in the slightest. Literally all forms of “sidewalk counseling” are, indeed, harassment unless it is sought out by the “counseled.”

          “You think people don’t think the only reason gay rights protest outside of churches is to harass church goers? That they are “hysterical” too?”

          I wouldn’t be particularly up in arms if we were to define such protests during services as harassing/disruptive, no.

          • Joe

            I don’t think “harassment” means approaching people who you don’t know want to talk to you. It is, after they say ‘no,’ to keep at it and not go away.

            I respect your consistently at stopping gay people from, on public streets, trying to talk, before they shoo them away, to people. I just find it a 1A problem.

      • DrDick

        Indeed. Their “speech” is in no way impaired, only their “right” to commit assault on people seeking legitimate medical care.

      • Tom Servo

        Yeah I don’t get it. I believe you have the right to *try* to get your message heard, not to actually have it heard. So individual sidewalk conversations are the most effective according to some busybody protesters. So? Does the First Amendment protect your right to the most effective form of speech, regardless of its effect on people validly exercising their rights?

        • Actually, in general, yes it does.

          • Tom Servo

            Can you recommend a good primer on the first amendment?

            • Wikipedia has a decent primer. But here are some examples of the doctrine:

              Texas v. Johnson (flag burning protected)
              Cohen v. California (“fuck the draft” protected- “one man’s obscenity is another man’s lyric”)
              Snyder v. Phelps (picketing of military funerals protected)

              • cpinva

                in none of those cited cases were the plaintiffs getting right into someone’s face, they were all at a distance. the facts & circumstances are not on point.

                • Brien Jackson

                  And more specifically: People with a history of murdering people who don’t agree with them getting in people’s faces and harassing/threatening them.

                • Those facts are what make buffer zone cases tough.

                  They also made civil rights protest cases tough, too. The violent ones led to restriction on the nonviolent ones.

                • These are assaults. They are violent. So they should lead to restrictions.

                • The issue is not restrictions. The issue is PROPHYLACTIC restrictions. Restrictions that extend beyond the guilty and hit the innocent.

                  It isn’t categorically prohibited to do that, but it is disfavored.

            • Manju

              I recommend reading Dilan Esper on this very thread. He’s putting on a clinic.

    • randy khan

      On a basic level, I actually agree with the thinking behind this decision. Speech is speech, whether it’s conducted close to me or further away, and it doesn’t need to be polite.

      What’s troubling, in practice, is that sidewalk counseling often – I probably should say “typically” – involves things like getting in the way of people going into clinics, physical contact and other behavior that reasonably could be classified as harassment or assault. Maybe the answer to that is to tailor the statute more narrowly to get at that kind of thing. If you write it correctly, Roberts et al. lose their First Amendment out.

      • Joe

        I gather the problem is that it’s hard to catch people in the act here & the woman isn’t going to file a civil complaint (and deal with court etc.) and police won’t be on the scene all the time to see it etc. So, as Roberts said, a buffer zone is much easier to do.

        • Lee Rudolph

          I gather the problem is that it’s hard to catch people in the act here

          In this age of universal surveillance video cameras, I find that hard to believe.

          Maybe JL (who seems to be temporarily not around?), or someone else who does clinic escorting, could answer something else that occurs to me: how practical (and how effective, or counterproductive come to that) would it be to equip all clinic escorts with the kind of worn video cameras that police sometimes have?

          • My understanding from escorts is the buffer zones really help. That’s what makes the case tough.

          • Snarki, child of Loki

            My (not so great) understanding, is that not only is it difficult to “catch someone in the act”, but that often the cops are somewhat on the side of the anti-choicers. Depends on the locality, of course.

            Even if you catch someone on video, it’s not like they wear nametags, so unless they’re arrested on the spot, charging them with a crime is problematic.

            • Lee Rudolph

              I fear I may be veering into, if not full-on mansplanation, at least a mild case of Engineer’s Syndrome…not that I have ever been an engineer. But, it’s hard not to respond to this observation

              Even if you catch someone on video, it’s not like they wear nametags, so unless they’re arrested on the spot, charging them with a crime is problematic.

              with a suggestion: how about taking a leaf from the clinic terrorists’ playbook and distributing “WANTED for ASSAULT” posters with screenshots of the terrorists’s faces? Turnabout, goose/gander, etc.

          • Joe

            Well, I take some think such surveillance has its own problems but that is a lesser restrictive means, perhaps, to deal with at least repeat offenders … if you can determine who they are and go after them and the cameras pick up enough to prove violations etc.

            As DE notes, the buffer zones help. The question is how much and is it enough given 1A rights and alternative means. Though I gather prudence was a factor, Ginsburg et. al. apparently though here it came out against the buffer zone, enough not to even concur separately.

      • Matt McIrvin

        The law was, in fact, passed because a guy went around murdering people.

        • Joe

          Murder isn’t going to really be stopped by a buffer zone.

          Lesser wrongs more likely would be.

          • Snarki, child of Loki

            And school shootings won’t be stopped by magazine size limits. Perfect v. Good, grudge match!

            It’s still better to have any clinic shooter have to enter a buffer zone clear of protesters, so that he (and it’s ALWAYS ‘he’) can be spotted, shotted and splatted.

  • randy khan

    Describing what happens on sidewalks outside clinics as “consensual conversations” would be funny if it weren’t part of the rationale for the decision.

    Personally, I’ve sometimes wondered why NOW or NARAL doesn’t get some volunteers to act like they’re going into clinics, record what happens, and then sue the “counselors” for assault. If you got enough of them, you might even be able to argue a RICO claim against the sponsoring organizations.

    • postmodulator

      I’ve been kind of daydreaming about volunteering to work as a clinic escort, and doing it armed to the teeth. I’m a big guy, I’m imposing to people who don’t know me. It’d please me no end to glare at some godbotherer til he wet himself.

      • Alison

        I don’t know about being armed, but I will strongly encourage you – and anyone else, especially men – to PLEASE DO sign up to escort. When I escorted in SF we had a few dozen volunteers, and like two guys. I think most men don’t even think about it, but it means a hell of a lot to see them there, actively working to help us. And it is true that at least some protesters are less likely to try to get up in the face of a burly dude than a woman.

        Most clinics need all the volunteers they can get, and that has to include men, too. Usually you only have to commit to a couple shifts a month, depending on your local clinic’s needs. And you get to wear a super hot vest :P

    • Pat

      That’s why handing out signs might help. If the patient is clearly signaling that they don’t want to talk (obvious to any camera or idiot) then accosting them can seen as harassment.

  • efgoldman

    I’d still like to know the difference between the two decisions.

    • T.E. Shaw

      Hill v. Colorado involved a buffer rule that applied to all healthcare facilities, not just abortion clinics. Perhaps more importantly, Hill didn’t involve a hard-and-fast exclusion zone, but a 100-ft zone where protestors couldn’t approach within 8 ft of an entrant without consent (got all that?) Massachusetts had a similar rule, but ditched it for a hard-and-fast 35ft exclusion zone around the entrance because it found the Hill-type zone too difficult to enforce.

      • T.E. Shaw

        Those are the factual distinctions, at least; your guess on the legal distinctions are as good as mine. If you squint a little bit, you can see an argument that the Hill buffer is a less-restrictive imposition by the State.

      • Breadbaker

        Of course, making a decision about these policy issues is exactly what legislatures, not courts, are good at. But as Shelby County showed, this court considers itself smarter than any legislative (or judicial) record.

    • elm

      Scotusblog’s take is that today’s opinion effectively overturns the 2000 decision even if it doesn’t explicitly do so, i.e. Colorado’s floating buffer would also be found unconstitutional under today’s ruling. They suggest the reason Ginsburg and Breyer, who supported the 2000 decision, voted with the majority was that they (and, presumably, Kagan and Sotomayor) knew there weren’t 5 votes to keep the buffer zone and they wanted to preserve the finding about scrutiny from the 2000 ruling.

      I’m not a lawyer nor a judicial scholar, but this seems like a reasonable interpretation to me.

      • Tom Servo

        These buffer zone cases are ridiculously fact intensive for Supreme Court cases. Christ.

  • Matt

    Given the overlap between Talibangelicals cranky enough to protest at clinics and the NRA, I’d say there’s an obvious solution: clinic visitors who feel threatened should “stand their ground”.

    I believe the wingnutz refer to this as “2nd Amendment remedies”. ;)

    • runsinbackground

      Man, if there was ever a hypothetical case in which the “little bit nutty, little bit slutty” argument would be applied to an assault it’s one involving a distraught young woman shooting Pastor Dave of 1st Evangelical Free Church in the leg because he was standing a little too close to her when he called her a baby-killer.

      • Jenna

        The problem with the “stand your ground” laws is that they are more effective as a defense if you are a white man, and your opponent is not alive to give a competing story.

        • avoidswork


          I think we’ve learned from Florida not to leave a live body behind.

          And be white.

          • MikeN

            Given the history of this (two clinic workers murdered by an anti-abortionist protestor): the numerous acts of terrorist bombings, assaults,and murders carried out by anti-abortionists; the constant flow of threats from anti-abortionists, it would seem justifiable to shoot anti-abortion protestors on the grounds they made you fearful.

            • Origami Isopod, Commisar [sic] of Ideology for the Bolsheviks

              You are ignoring what the previous commenters said. How “justified” you are in defending yourself in this country depends a great deal on your color, gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

  • Tom Servo

    Was this the case with the relatively rural clinic that was less accessible on foot? The one where most people drive in?

    Seems to me that if most people drive in and there’s no convenient place to protest, them’s the breaks. Too bad. But as a former escort I really don’t have the time to be infuriated by reading this opinion.

    • You are correct. The PP clinic in my hometown was located in an enclosed mini-mall. It never drew protesters, because there was nowhere to protest. It was all private property.

      • The pp in mass. Is situated in a normal city building and does not have an underfround, private, parking lot or any private space surrounding it.

        • Sorry, that was me.

  • Tammy Faye Bakker

    Perhaps when an appointment is made, the patient should be issued with a TASER and instructed to use it on anyone who comes within reach of the patient’s outstretched arm?

    Perhaps if 3 or 4 “counselors” are TASERed every day it will become less popular?

    I also like the open-carry for escorts ideas; do you have a newsletter discussing the issues around stand your ground?

    These people are terrorists, they’ve proved that by facilitating many murders, arsons, and explosions. They deserve to be rounded up and sent to a super-max prison, not a “FEMA camp”, a real prison, for many, many years.

    Especially those using religion as a guise for their terrorism, which is despicable.

    • J R in WV

      I think that these clinics should have driveways through enclosed corridors, so that passengers in cars or mini-buses or vans can get out of the vehicle and enter the clinic without being exposed at all to anyone. They would also be protected from adverse weather and flying spit. Nothing says concern like medical counselors who spit on you!

      This could work like drive-thru banks or the drive-thru feed stores as seen in Ohio. The Ohio feed stores also sell cold beer, hardware, dog food, sweet feed for horses, hay, straw, potting soil, etc. Adding medical procedures to the goods and services available on a drive-thru basis seems like common sense.

      The drive-thru part of the structure could be built so as to be protective from gun-fire using heavily reinforced concrete walls. If necessary blast doors could be installed if the medical counselors become more hostile. All this seems like a bit much for a medical clinic, but the Supreme Court has spoken!

      Terrorists are free to terrorize, unless we take steps to keep public space like sidewalks or death separated from private doorways on private property with walls to protect people from the volunteer counselors of death.

      What a judicial decision, setting terrorists free to assail people in need of medical care! Those folks should get a clue about the difference between terrorism and political activism. Here’s a clue for free – the terrorism involves bombing, killing and arson, not medical counseling. And it is what goes on outside these clinics.

      • J R in WV

        “sidewalks or death” should be “sidewalks of death”… oh for an edit functions!

        • Rob in CT

          Cake or Death?

          • Linnaeus

            The cake is a lie.

            • Mary Baker Eddy

              So is death!

      • Snarki, child of Loki

        I, for one, applaud our future ‘drive-through abortion clinics’.

        But you have to keep the protesters from walking in and obstructing. I suggest concealing the clinics inside drive through car-wash facilities.

      • Lee Rudolph

        Terror doth never prosper. What’s the error?
        If it doth prosper, none dare call it terror.

  • patrick II

    Is there such a thing as the right not to listen? People have free speech, but normally I can not listen, usually by just turning the channel. Any person who wants to can listen to the anti-abortionists, but normally don’t. I am not sure where their right to speech trumps my right to not listen.

    • Because one of them is written into the Constitution.

      That doesn’t mean no buffer zone can be constitutional, but the entire point of the First Amendment is to ensure that people can say things others do not wish to hear. Buffer zones have to focus on the issues of obstruction and harassment, not the fact that people don’t want to hear the message.

      • Snarki, child of Loki

        Like the buffer zone around the RNC convention?

        Better start litigation now, so that Scalia has a chance to weigh in before the 2016 convention.

        • Stranger Danger

          You should read the decision. Many, including Justice Scalia have addressed this.

          OR…you can just run your mouth

          • sharculese

            But there’s no way you read the decision or could even understand it if you did, and you run your mouth constantly.

            Maybe you should try to set a better example before you get all surly at people?

        • I was on the team that litigated the challenge to the buffer zones at the 2000 DNC in Los Angeles. I really think a lot of them are unconstitutional.

          I believe these cases are really tough. Obviously there is a need for a security perimeter in a number of situations. Just as obviously, people aren’t supposed to use security perimeters to try and avoid being confronted with any expression they disagree with.

          Given the history of abortion protesters, and the officiousness and arrogance of “sidewalk counselors”, plus the fact that at so many clinics they just go ahead and block the entrances, I’m quite sympathetic to some sort of restrictions around clinics. (And I’m VERY sympathetic to coming down hard on any pro-lifer who trespasses or obstructs. I mean like a couple of years in a maximum security prison hard.) This is a difficult issue; my main point is you can’t shortcut it with arguments that would presuppose that nobody can ever say anything mean to a woman getting an abortion. That’s the sort of argument the First Amendment really does curtail.

  • Ciccio: Oh yea, there was lotsa buffahs!

  • RogerAiles

    In its majestic equality, the USSC permits the rich and poor alike to patronize well-guarded, discreet medical facilities and live in gated communities in order to avoid the spittle and abuse of “sidewalk counselors.”

    I’m sure some right-wing dickwad has already tried to enlist the open carry crowd as counselors for those visting their local Planned Parenthood office.

    • That’s not really right. Plenty of hospitals in wealthy cities like NYC and SF abut public sidewalks.

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