Massachusetts Abortion Clinic Buffer Zone Law

In June of 2014, the Supreme Court ruled that a Massachusetts law was unconstitutional. This specific law from 2007 established a 35 foot buffer zone around every abortion clinic in the state that forbid protestors from approaching close to the entrances around abortion clinics.

This buffer zone was established in order to protect patients coming through the door to the clinic, but the Supreme Court stated that it was possible to prohibit harassment while still protecting free speech, referring to a New York City ordinance that makes it a crime to follow another person within 15 feet of a clinic.

Critics in Massachusetts state that previous bubble ordinances in the state did not work, as protesters found away around them.

Coffey explained that in this case the Supreme Court is coming out very much in favor of the first amendment and very protective of the rights to protest. In fact, the court ruled unanimously against the law although they left intact the personal space bubble that had been determined in an earlier case in Colorado.

The general statement on the first amendment was very strong, it was emphatic, and it was not the first time we have seen very strong statements taken on the first amendment by this court whether you talk in terms of protests… or even campaign spending.”

The two of them also discussed the recent decision on cell phones and the need for law enforcement officers to get a warrant before they are allowed to look at a cell phone of someone they pull over.