SCOTUS Rules in Favor of Threatening Women

Via NYMag, which reports:

The Supreme Court today unanimously struck down a Massachusetts law that required a 35-foot buffer zone around the entrance to abortion clinics in hopes of preventing violence and harassment. “The buffer zones burden substantially more speech than necessary to achieve the Commonwealth’s asserted interests,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts in the decision, concluding that the law violates the First Amendment. “Petitioners wish to converse with their fellow citizens about an important subject on the public streets and sidewalks — sites that have hosted discussions about the issues of the day throughout history.”

While the Court ruled that the state had not adequately attempted less intrusive methods, the National Organization for Women called out the ruling’s “cavalier disregard for the physical safety — the lives, even — of women seeking abortion care and the health care providers who serve them.” (A shooting at a clinic outside of Boston killed two people in 1994.)…

The Massachusetts law was explicitly passed in reaction to a diagnosed schizophrenic shooting up a Brookline clinic and murdering a receptionist. He escaped, travelled to Virginia (probably at the behest of anti-abortion terrorist Donald Spitz), and murdered a second receptionist at another clinic. As when Scott Roeder murdered Dr. Tiller, the soft-spoken monsters aiding and abetting the dangerous nutters walked away with a smile on their lips and a crocodile tear in their eyes.

Ellen McCullen — a “sidewalk counselor” who approaches those walking into abortion clinics with a “caring demeanor, a calm voice and direct eye contact” and politely asks, “Good morning, may I give you my literature?” — is a walking, talking prop for the real terrorists, who have just been given more opportunity to “unintentionally” gin up the next “activist” looking to punish random women for the voices in his head… and on the websites insisting it’s not really murder if God tells you to go shoot some baby-killing sluts.

ETA: Via LGM, Sarah Posner at Religious Dispatches, “Your Uterus Is “An Important Subject” About Which Your Fellow Citizens “Wish To Converse” “:

… The Rev. Harry Knox, president of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, called the sidewalk counseling protected in McCullen “spiritual harassment,” adding, “We’re outraged that the Court has allowed strangers to intercede in the personal health decisions of women and families when they have not been invited – and indeed are not welcome.”

As devotee of the First Amendment, I have conflicting feelings about restrictions on speech. Steven R. Shapiro, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union noted such conflicts in a statement: “We agree that a fixed buffer zone imposes serious First Amendment costs, but we also think the Court underestimated the proven difficulty of protecting the constitutional rights of women seeking abortions by enforcing other laws – especially regarding harassment – outside abortion clinics.”

Today’s decision is limited to the 2007 Massachusetts law, and may not invalidate every buffer zone law currently on the books or that could be enacted in the future. The ruling leaves in place a 2000 decision upholding a Colorado law that imposed a 100 foot buffer zone outside all health care facilities, barring people from coming within eight feet of visitors to counsel them without their consent…

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.”

140 replies
  1. 1
    kuvasz says:

    I would suggest the path mentioned by

  2. 2
    JPL says:

    @kuvasz: That’s not a bad idea. I’d prefer Coakley to ask the legislature to sell the sidewalks to the clinics and make them private property.

  3. 3
    Dolly Llama says:

    Unanimous? That’s what I don’t understand.

  4. 4
    kindness says:

    2nd Amendment Remedies?

    No, not the clinics.

  5. 5
    Morzer says:

    I fail to see any value in the continued existence of the Supreme Court. It’s clearly just a venue for conservative fanatics to enact their ideological fantasies, with, in this case, assistance from some piss-weak excuses for liberal justices. Women will die, be injured and traumatized because of what these black-robed enemies of humanity and the rule of law have done today.

  6. 6
    Howard Beale IV says:

    Unfortunately for that posted Tweet from Ms. Bogado, I’m sure there’s some USC or DC statute that allows the SCOTUS to have it’s beefy buffer zone. Then again, I wonder what ol’ Nino has been watching on Netflix or Youtube-knowing him, probably Japanese tentacle porn…..

  7. 7
    JPL says:

    @Morzer: Yup. Monday should be fun when they decide employers can dictate what health care is appropriate for you.

  8. 8
    burnspbesq says:

    So, freedom of speech is only for people y’all agree with?

    That dog don’t hunt.

  9. 9
    gian says:

    since it was 9-0 I’m thinking I’d have to read it to figure what the full story is.

    I hope that MA just didn’t make a good trial record about how the bubble law didn’t work and resulting in shootings, because I’d think that would go at least the old 5-4 ruling route.

  10. 10
    gian says:

    the hypocrisy point shows the free speech dog hunting zone is about 25 times bigger than the zone just banned.
    so it’s a limit to just where the dog is allowed to hunt, but don’t let that impair your arrogance

    or do dogs not hunt at certain times, in certain places and certain manners?

  11. 11
    Howard Beale IV says:

    @Morzer: Too bad Obama doesn’t have to balls of FDR and start court-packing.

  12. 12
    burnspbesq says:

    @Dolly Llama:

    Unanimous? That’s what I don’t understand.

    It was unanimous because the answer was obvious.

  13. 13
    Howard Beale IV says:

    @burnspbesq: I think the Tweet lede says it all, eh? Boundaries for me but not for thee?

  14. 14
    Anne Laurie says:


    So, freedom of speech is only for people y’all agree with?

    It’s not the “speech” that worries me, it’s the monsters using that speech to encourage murder & terrorism. If you anti-choicers can’t or won’t stop the terrorists among you, I say the “sidewalk counselors” are equivalent to people yelling fire in a crowded theatre — when the bodies are being carried away, you don’t get to lift up your hands and say you meant it for the best.

  15. 15
    Morzer says:


    So you’ve sunk to defining harassment and abuse and interference with a law-abiding citizen’s right to go about her business as free speech?

    Unimpressive in the extreme.

  16. 16
    amk says:

    @Dolly Llama: I don’t either.

  17. 17
    Cassidy says:

    @burnspbesq: No one told them what they could or could not say, just where they could say it.

  18. 18
    Botsplainer says:

    @Howard Beale IV:

    He’d have to get bills out of the House and Senate.

  19. 19
    Lee says:

    Someone will eventually have a stand your ground moment in front of clinic.

  20. 20
    Morzer says:

    @Anne Laurie:

    Actually, I think the “sidewalk counsellors” are much worse than that – and are often prepared to go far beyond anything that could be defined as free speech. Jessica Valenti had a fine piece on this:

    Imagine trying to walk into a building, trying to get a medical treatment – and someone screams at you. Someone is two inches from your face – two feet from the front door – and that someone is videotaping you, calling you a whore. There’s ketchup poured in the snowbanks around you, made to look like spurted blood. You try to take a step forward, but people block your way, yelling that you’re going to be “mother to a dead baby”. They hold signs in your faces, whisper “murderer” in your ear as you pass. Maybe they shove you.

    Don’t believe portrayals to the contrary – from anti-choice activists and the news media – that these kinds of protestors outside abortion clinics are not grandmas praying, or kindly “counselors” who just want to talk reasonably to women. These people wait outside clinics to shame and to harass; they are there to scare.

  21. 21
    amk says:

    @Cassidy: Exactly. The concept of personal space has been gutted.

    Hope someone gets in the face of burnsie with this ruling.

  22. 22
    Morzer says:


    They’ve already murdered George Tiller in church. All this ruling will do is encourage more of these vicious creatures to act out their perverted fantasies in the name of “free speech”.

  23. 23
    Morzer says:


    You think Burnsie cares about such trivialities as the right of a woman to go for medical treatment without being abused, harassed and threatened?

  24. 24
    GregB says:

    I can only assume that we will shortly see a melding of two of the wingnuts favorite acts of intimidation.

    Up close open carry protests at women’s health clinics.

  25. 25
    Mike in NC says:

    This court is all about preserving the status quo for wealthy conservative white males.

  26. 26
    Lee says:


    Actually I was thinking the other way around. Someone walking into the clinic get accosted by a bunch of people screaming at them and decides they are in danger.

  27. 27
    Zam says:

    @gian: My guess is that the case was specifically looking at well behaved protesters, though the rule effectively gives the nuts licence to harass. Perhaps they could pass a law specifically against any type of aggressive interactions, not that it will stop these freaks, just like laws against inciting lawlessness and murder haven’t stopped them in the past.

  28. 28
    Morzer says:


    Second Amendment solutions only apply to white men murdering black boys for shits and giggles.

    Injustice Scalia can tell you that.

  29. 29
    opiejeanne says:

    @Dolly Llama: That was my reaction. How could it be unanimous?

  30. 30
    Howard Beale IV says:

    @Botsplainer: Well, here’s hoping for the midterms then.

    Then again, Obama won’t do shit, and his record at the Supreme Court has been pretty bad as well.

  31. 31
    Cassidy says:

    @Zam: That would actually be a violation of the 1st Amendment, though.

  32. 32
    joel hanes says:


    the answer was obvious.

    Amazing that the same obvious answer does not apply to the clearly-political speech of those who wish to demonstrate at the Republican National Convention.

    Free speech zones for hippies; no buffer zone for Operation Rescue.

  33. 33
    Zam says:

    @Cassidy: It’s not in Florida. Though I was thinking if they start yelling they gotta step back to the old line.

  34. 34
    opiejeanne says:

    @burnspbesq: They can have their very own Free Speech zone.

  35. 35
    scav says:

    @Morzer: Insofar as Burnsie, so long as it comes with the correct seal of his two favorite hierarchies of not to be questioned authority, he doesn’t give a shit. Whatever plops out is infallibly truth, perfect and pure. Insofar as reality, we’ll no doubt find out more. They may have needed logical cover for the money = speech unfettered freedom some there are gunning for.

  36. 36
    Botsplainer says:

    We don’t have a clinic buffer law in KY. Apparently, the protestors here in Louisville are very aggressive, despite police presence.

    I’m going to be a clinic escort, but have to do the training sessions. I’m even tempered (and old) enough to not react too strongly to provocation.

  37. 37
    Alison says:

    I’d like to urge any of you who live near a clinic – especially in more conservative areas or places like Boston where there is a LOT of protest activity – to please please PLEASE go sign up as a volunteer escort. You usually only have to commit to a couple shifts a month, and they’ll often give you a choice of days to work with your schedule. It’s incredibly important, and even more so if buffer zones disappear. If you believe in reproductive freedom, this is a way to put your money where your mouth is and be a friendly face in a sea of fear and anger and intimidation.

    I would especially encourage men to do this – when I escorted, we had a pool of probably around 30 volunteers, and like 2 or 3 guys. I think a lot of men just don’t even think about it, but it means a LOT to see them there. If you’ve got a few spare hours in your month, and you’re physically able to do it, please do.

    Also, a big giant FUCK YOU to anyone who sides with the protesters, especially because I’d bet my damn life you have no idea at all what it’s actually like, and you’d probably piss your pants if you were the one in the middle of it.


  38. 38
    opiejeanne says:

    @Morzer: Is Burnsie a he or a she?

  39. 39
    Botsplainer says:

    I suppose this means that gun store sidewalks are fair game for protests and kid victim posters.

  40. 40

    Even if this is the ‘correct’ decision that doesn’t make it the right one. I think many of us would be happy doing away entirely with things like the 2nd Amendment, for instance… as Ginsburg has noted, the US Constitution is a deeply flawed document.

  41. 41
    joel hanes says:


    the “sidewalk counsellors” are much worse than that

    In 1991, I walked a pregnant young woman through the active Operation Rescue “Summer of Mercy” demonstration and into the Palo Alto CA Planned Parenthood clinic. Even with the excellent Palo Alto cops present and mostly enforcing a buffer, the demonstrators were in our faces, on the very edge of verbal assault and physical battery. It was one of the ugliest experiences I’ve ever had.

  42. 42
    amk says:


    Also. Too. Dirty fucking hippies yelling inside their precious churches.

  43. 43
    Emerald says:

    Social media might be extremely useful at these clinics. Set up cameras to record what these idiots do. Women, and/or volunteer escorts, start your smartphone videos and keep ’em running all the way through the gauntlet.

    Take close ups of the people screaming in your face. Document their assaults.

    Then post it all online.

    Guaranteed, the ugliness of these people is not going to go down well with most Americans.

  44. 44
    Morzer says:


    Definitely male, although with an extra dose of privilege and deference to authority.

  45. 45
    opiejeanne says:

    @Alison: I was startled by how many men, older men, retired guys, were on the sidewalk outside the Planned Parenthood in Hayward California every morning. Rarely any women protesting, mostly guys.

    I never saw them interact with anyone who actually entered the clinic but they did harass people on the sidewalk within half a block of the place,so I would guess that they did.

  46. 46
    opiejeanne says:

    @Morzer: Thanks. That explains a lot.

  47. 47
    gene108 says:


    Hope someone gets in the face of burnsie with this ruling.

    I hope someone starts “counseling” the Supreme Court Justices as they go to their doctors appointments.


    Buffer zones got put in precisely because the anti-choice crowd has been consistently out of hand, with regards to blocking access to abortion clinics. There’s a lot of history with these groups basically trying to shut down abortion clinics, by not letting anyone enter.

  48. 48
    Vincent N says:

    If you are confused over how this decision was unanimous then you could try actually reading the decision. Or you can simply continue calling the liberal justices, which includes three women, traitors who want women to die. Sometimes a decision comes out because the law is bad and not because the judges are trying to screw people over.

    Since free speech zones in general haven’t been declared unconstitutional the answer may just be to rewrite this particular law better. But I would have to read the decision first. I just think there must be more to the story here to get a 9-0 decision like this.

  49. 49
    amk says:

    @Morzer: burnsie probably bought his own set of jackboots since the authorities ordered him to.

  50. 50
    Morzer says:


    Right – that’s exactly the point of buffer zones, which is why this is a ludicrous decision by a group of clueless buffoons.

  51. 51
    Morzer says:


    Actually, I am pretty sure he had a pair all bright and shiny and ready to go in anticipation of his day of joy.

  52. 52
    Botsplainer says:

    This is the escort setup in Louisville.

    The main problem, as I see it, is location, because the parking situation is atrocious – every patient has to walk the sidewalk to enter, as the is no onsite parking.

  53. 53
    Alison says:

    @Emerald: People do this already. If you check #protectthezone on Twitter, there are lots of pictures, videos, etc. The problem is – the protesters are proud of this shit, and too many people are indifferent. They may say it’s terrible and maybe they wouldn’t do it themselves, but they still want to believe it’s not that big of a deal, it doesn’t affect them so it doesn’t really matter, etc etc.

  54. 54
    Alison says:

    @opiejeanne: I escorted in San Francisco and we mostly had just a few older people who sat across the street with non-grotesque signs. I was lucky as hell. Though we did have a few times during the year when extra people would show up, they’d stand on our side of the street, shove pamphlets at people, and so on. Thankfully I never saw anyone get violent.

  55. 55
    scav says:

    Mobs standing around Catholic church doors on all Sundays, asking each and every parishioner about their personal complicity and financial support for an organization enabling international child rape, child-theft, coverups and mass graves in septic tanks might catch Burnsies attention.

  56. 56
    scav says:

    silly mr pad

  57. 57
    GHayduke (formerly lojasmo) says:

    @Dolly Llama:

    Unanimous? That’s what I don’t understand

    Even the worst SCOTUS justices know more about the first amendment than we do?

  58. 58
    Morzer says:


    Not mobs… more a group of friends who are deeply concerned about the impact of pedophile churches on their children and their neighborhoods and simply wish to converse in a strong, but concerned way with those unfortunate enough to have been snared by such nefarious organizations.

  59. 59
    Botsplainer says:

    Were I to represent one of the outpatient clinics here in KY (services also occur quietly in secular hospitals), I’d recommend spending the money to identify the 10 loudest repeat protesting gasbags and sue for an injunction under a “tortious interference with a business relationship” theory, like a manufacturer breaking a strike by enjoining pickets.

  60. 60
    jl says:

    ” Just to be clear, the Supreme Court has a very active ban against demonstrators on its own grounds. ”

    I was thinking the same thing. And it was unanimous, which surprised me. In some ways, the powerful all end up in a bubble.
    Are the absurd ‘free speech zones” for those precious political conventions still OK?

  61. 61
    r€nato says:

    I heard that for this case they picked a kindly old grandmother or some shit like that, she just wanted to talk to women going into the clinic. Did it not occur even to the so-called liberals on the court that the typical clinic protest is not kindly soft-spoken grandmothers but rather harassment using ‘free speech’ as a fig leaf?

    Fucking jerks.

  62. 62
    amk says:

    @GHayduke (formerly lojasmo): Looks like their ‘knowledge’ stops at their own buffer zones. Hypocrisy too much?

  63. 63
    Betsy says:

    @Morzer: yeah. The Supreme Court has upheld buffer zones where you can’t picket people’s houses from the sidewalk right next to their yard. Something about a right to have peace and be able to be free from harassment at least in your own domicile. So obviously the restriction is OK in some circumstances. Evidently there is no right not to be harassed while you prepare for an extremely personal medical procedure.

  64. 64
    Betsy says:

    @Botsplainer: or how about the patient as the plaintiff and she sues for intentional infliction of emotional distress? action could lie

  65. 65
    scav says:

    @Betsy: Probably not when we vote either. Are free-from-politicking zones around voting areas now legal or not?

  66. 66
    Kay says:


    I think so, too. They’re incredibly cavalier about what other people have to go thru, aren’t they?

    The blithe disregard for the practical reality of peoples lives bugs the shit out of me.

  67. 67
    Vincent N says:

    For God’s sake Justice Ginsburg is one of the most pro choice justices on the court. But so many seem willing to turn on her and the other liberal justices without even bothering to read the decision.

  68. 68
    jl says:

    I don’t understand the recess appointment decision either. And from what I read, the justices were unanimous on the bottom line there. Though the conservatives who are very careful about precedent and tradition and not making up legal theories wanted to go further.

    What is different at all about Obama’s recess appointments, except that the Congressional GOP decided to obstruct everything and Obama is a blah president. Or maybe just being a Democrat president is enough now. We will find out during the next Democratic administration. That would be frightening, to find out that the Obama treatment is just the Clinton II treatment, and the racist garbage they spout is just an excuse. Next Democratic administration they’ll ramp it up to Clinton III / Obama II treatment and find another excuse.

  69. 69
    amk says:


    In some ways, the powerful all end up in a bubble.


  70. 70
    Vincent N says:

    Or in other words we rag on conservative judges for results oriented decisions (see the 2nd Amendment case Heller) but if the liberal justices follow the law and precedent faithfully then they are ivory tower eggheads who don’t care about women. You can’t have it both ways.

  71. 71
    Kay says:


    I thought about that. Parking beneath, private property.

  72. 72
    jl says:

    @Vincent N: We are not all lawyers here. I have to decide from what I read. You got a good link for an explanation for laypeople that will make it look better, I will read it. Might throw in one on the decision on recess appointments too.

  73. 73
    Eric U. says:

    @Vincent N: if there is a first amendment right to kill people because you disagree with abortion, I’m not seeing it.

  74. 74
    smedley the uncertain says:

    @Morzer: Yep!!!
    Also too, fifty percent of the lawyers are wrong 100% of the time… and so goes Bernse.

  75. 75
    Kay says:

    “Counseling without consent” is an interesting concept.
    I don’t believe I’ve ever heard this applied outside an adult – child relationship.
    Are men often “counseled” without their consent by complete strangers, well, really anyone wandering by with an opinion, I guess.

  76. 76
    smedley the uncertain says:

    My comment being moderated.

    Only obvious bad word was ‘Bernse,,,”

  77. 77
    Cervantes says:


    since it was 9-0 I’m thinking I’d have to read it to figure what the full story is.

    Good idea. Meanwhile here are some details:

    All nine justices agreed that the no-talking and no-standing zones surrounding the entrances to abortion facilities in Massachusetts were unconstitutional and unnecessary. But a narrow majority also affirmed that cities and states have ample power to prevent or arrest protesters who are obstructing clinics or harassing patients.

    That’s from David Savage at the LA Times.

    Here’s Robert Barnes (Washington Post):

    Significantly, only the court’s liberals joined Roberts’s opinion: Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. That is a rare combination at the court, Roberts’s majority opinion upholding the Affordable Care Act in 2012 the most notable example.

    The court’s four conservatives agreed that the law violated the First Amendment but, writing separately from Roberts, said he was wrong in not simply finding that the law discriminated against those opposed to abortion.

    And here’s Matt Murphy at the (Massachusetts) State House News Service:

    The decision suggests Massachusetts could accomplish its goal of preserving public safety and access to clinics by imposing criminal and civil sanctions for “obstructing, intimidating, or interfering with persons obtaining or providing reproductive health services,” or enacting a law requiring crowds blocking a clinic entrance to disperse for a limited period when ordered to do so by the police.

    Certainly, you should read the opinion.

  78. 78
    Vincent N says:


    SCOTUSBlog is usually a good place to check for a layperson summary of decisions.

  79. 79
    Ruckus says:

    He didn’t have to sink. Not in the least little bit.

  80. 80
    Vincent N says:

    @Eric U.:

    Yes, I’m sure that is exactly what Ginsburg, Kagan, Breyer, and Sotomayer signed onto. The First Amendment right to kill people.


  81. 81
    BBA says:

    @Kay: Jehovah’s Witnesses and other street missionaries come to mind. As a Jewish male I’ve been “counseled” by Chabadniks to perform various mitzvot over the years. It’s obnoxious but it’s all clearly First Amendment free speech/free exercise territory.

    The monsters who stand in abortion clinic doorways and assault anyone trying to enter claim to be doing the same thing. It’s not remotely similar.

  82. 82
    Cervantes says:

    @Alison: Seconded.

  83. 83
    Ruckus says:

    What about inciting a riot?
    What about causing a public panic?
    There are limitations on free speech. There are limitations on where I can freely stand, walk and drive. There are limitations on where I can shoot a gun. Or even carry a loaded one.
    Nothing in this world is completely free. We live in a society. All of us. Even you. And we all have limitations on our lives. Every fucking day we have them.
    So if every thing is free speech, then I can drive my car at 120? I can pay for sex, money is free speech? I can protest on the steps of the Supreme Court?
    Yeah I didn’t think so.
    Limitations. Get the fuck over yourself.

  84. 84
    Kay says:


    I resent that they are framing it as “reproductive clinics”. If there were a health privacy law that barred approaching someone going to get medical care from being “counseled” Justice Roberts would never say “citizens want to talk about important issues of the day”.

    Drug addiction is an important issue of the day. Would he feel this way if I want to “counsel” him on that as he walks in for his intake appointment?

    They should write the law to protect peoples privacy going into medical providers. They WOULD write it that way if they didn’t see “womens issues” as this special sub-category that is always open to debate.

  85. 85
    amk says:

    @Cervantes: On MA imposing criminal and civil sanctions, what if some nut goes back to the court saying such sanctions violated his 1st amendment? sounds a lot like circular logic.

  86. 86
    jurassicpork says:

    Figures. This would impact in my home state. More typical “For Me, Not For Thee” mentality we’re seeing all the time from the 1%. I say we do what the Rude Pundit suggested: Troll them at their church in Grafton and see how they like that.

    Btw, my interview with Florida thriller author Marcia Meara went live yesterday and today I drastically discounted the price of all three of my books, the quasi political American Zen, the thriller The Toy Cop and the heavily political satirical dictionary, The Misanthrope’s Manual. So now’s your chance to get any or all three of them at a greatly reduced rate from now to the end of July. All links can be found here.

  87. 87
    Ruckus says:

    Here’s some free speech for you.


  88. 88
    Betsy says:

    @Kay: that’s right, you have put your finger on what is “unique” about this case –same thing that is unique about mandating an ultrasound probe and fetus-viewing session — which is that women, the lying sluts, aren’t entitled to think for themselves and should be subject to interference by anyone else who thinks they should butt in.

  89. 89
    Morzer says:

    @Vincent N:

    I don’t care if she dances in front of the pro-choice marching band with a bright blue set of pompoms. This is an absurd decision by an oligarchs’ court divorced from the reality of what women suffer at the hands of these domestic terrorist vermin.

  90. 90
    Cervantes says:


    I resent that they are framing it as “reproductive clinics”. If there were a health privacy law that barred approaching someone going to get medical care from being “counseled” Justice Roberts would never say “citizens want to talk about important issues of the day”. […] They should write the law to protect peoples privacy going into medical providers. They WOULD write it that way if they didn’t see “womens issues” as this special sub-category that is always open to debate.

    Here’s a puzzle: Why in the opinion released today did Roberts not mention the Court’s decision in Hill v. Colorado (98-1856) 530 U.S. 703 (2000) 973 P.2d 1246 (affirmed)?

    Here’s what that case was about:

    Colorado Rev. Stat. §18—9—122(3) makes it unlawful for any person within 100 feet of a health care facility’s entrance to “knowingly approach” within 8 feet of another person, without that person’s consent, in order to pass “a leaflet or handbill to, displa[y] a sign to, or engag[e] in oral protest, education, or counseling with [that] person … .”

    And here’s what the Court held:

    Section 18—9—122(3)’s restrictions on speech-related conduct are constitutional.

  91. 91
    Alison says:

    @jurassicpork: Seriously? You couldn’t wait for an open thread to try to hawk your books?

  92. 92
    Kay says:


    Try this. I think people should have more babies. I’m going to get my group and “counsel” men as they go in for vasectomies. “Stop!” I’ll say. Let’s bat this idea of yours around out here on the sidewalk. Reconsider! What about the babies?
    Important “issue of the day” or individual privacy issue re:health care when it gets to the court?
    I hate how they talk about “us”, how we’re always sidelined and second to an important issue of the day.

  93. 93
    Ash Can says:

    OK, didn’t read the thread and I’m sure this has been discussed, but just in case: Does this mean the rest of us can pre-emptively “sidewalk-proselytize” in the faces of the abortion protesters? I.e., if we come across a clinic with a gaggle of protesters hanging around, can we just walk right up to them and get in their faces and harangue at them that they’re all going straight to hell for being nasty to their fellow humans? ‘Cuz I’m down with that. (And who knows — maybe the more liberal SC justices are too, and are just daring everyone to bring suit e.g. against the SC justices’ “buffer zone.”)

  94. 94
    BBA says:

    @Cervantes: Scalia’s dissent there said roughly “Come on, this is about abortion! Nobody’s protesting any other medical facilities!” and went on to argue that this was meant to silence the pro-life movement and ought to be struck down on those grounds. Funny, I thought he rejected disparate impact analysis if the law is facially neutral…

    @Kay: We are in violent agreement.

  95. 95
    Ash Can says:

    @Alison: Jurassicpork shows up here only to beg for handouts of some kind or another. Our blog host has shown the utmost generosity by not banning him/her/it. Just ignore.

  96. 96
    Kay says:


    Because Roberts sees womens decisions as important issues of the day rather than individual adult actions.

    People are NUTS about health care privacy. I see it in my practice. They are constantly on the look-out for a health care provider violating federal health care privacy provisions. The local newspaer had to stop publishing hospital admits because people complained.

    Yet. That isn’t the framing for this one group of women. Why is that?

  97. 97
    Betsy says:

    @Kay: Yep. Women’s autonomy, always in question, always subject to modification by others.

    Don’t want to have sex? Too bad, you somehow consented even without consenting. Do want to have an abortion? Funny, your decision isn’t really yours.

    Whether you want to say yes or you want to say no, if you’re a woman, your autonomy is conditional and on sufferance, and can be gainsaid.

    That’s the bedrock principle at work here.

  98. 98
    Cervantes says:

    @BBA: Scalia has not forgotten. In today’s opinion, he asked again for Hill v. Colorado to be overturned. Or, as he put it:

    There is an entirely separate, abridged edition of the First Amendment applicable to speech against abortion.

  99. 99
    JoyfulA says:

    @gene108: I’m thinking of protesting outside urology offices, the places where the elderly men who love to protest clinics go to get their blue pill prescriptions.

    I just have to think of some good slogans.

    (Have you ever been to see a urologist? All male patients, except me, and lots of ED posters and brochures.)

  100. 100
    Betsy says:

    @Kay: Word. Going into an abortion clinic? It’s not an autonomous decision by an adult entitled to self-determination and privacy .. it’s a *group* affair, to be tossed about and bandied by random self- inserting strangers!

    it’s not a uterus – it’s a we-terus!

  101. 101
    Kay says:


    Thanks. It upsets me, obviously. I really loathe public humiliation and shaming. I can’t even bear it when adults do it to kids, let alone strangers to adult women.

    The loss of dignity of the person just makes me ill. I don’t understand why they can’t give these women that.

  102. 102
    Kay says:


    My daughter isn’t very “political” she’s interested in other things, but that aspect makes her sputter she gets so mad.
    I get it, too. I know exactly what she means when she says “why are they always talking about us?”

  103. 103
    Mike G says:

    It’d be a frosty friggin’ day in hell before any of the pampered SCOTUS douchebags permitted one of us Great Unwashed within a hundred yards “to converse with them about an important subject on the public streets and sidewalks — sites that have hosted discussions about the issues of the day throughout history.”

  104. 104
    Not Adding Much to the Community says:

    @jurassicpork: JP, the Amazon links on your page are broken, landing on an Amazon 404 page.

  105. 105
    Not Adding Much to the Community says:

    @Betsy: Bulls Eye. On The Noise. Three Point Landing. Exactly.

  106. 106
    Not Adding Much to the Community says:

    @Betsy: “It’s a ‘we-terus.’ Oh my God. Where would you like all the Internets shipped?

  107. 107
    Heliopause says:

    @Vincent N:

    For the crowd that are claiming that Ginsburg, of all people, has sold us out, I’d be curious to know what they think the viable alternative is.

  108. 108
    Not Adding Much to the Community says:

    @Not Adding Much to the Community: Or on the nose, even.

  109. 109
    Betsy says:

    @Kay: I like her question. Well said, non-politcal* kid!

    * that’s theoretically possible …

  110. 110
    mai naem (mobile) says:

    Sc alia is a big pos.

  111. 111
    Betsy says:

    @Not Adding Much to the Community: Oh, I’m afraid i cannot claim it. I think I got that from Twisty Faster, or one of her effulgent commenters .. so I would need to forward the package to her.

    Yeah, I love it too. Please meme it forward!

  112. 112
    Flukebucket says:

    @burnspbesq: I really, really would like your prediction on the upcoming Hobby Lobby ruling.

  113. 113
    ruemara says:

    @Howard Beale IV: How about that shit meme just die? He doesn’t have the massive Congress of FDR. Wait, I see you’re a serial douche who thinks that a Congress is a mere triviality and facts don’t matter against the FDR in your head. Carry on.

  114. 114
    Suzanne says:

    The Planned Parenthood near me that performs abortions rarely if ever has protestors. That is a blessing. The PP is in a strip mall, so people entering the parking lot could be going to one of many places, and it is set back far from the sidewalk, so the shrieking pterodactyls are kept far away from anyone who enters. It’s a great setup.

    This ruling makes me sad, but I have a feeling that there will be a way to write this better and have it pass muster.

  115. 115
    PIGL says:

    @burnspbesq: Lining up in phlanax and yelling at people is assault. Asshole.

  116. 116
    YellowJournalism says:

    “Reject Viagra! Only The Lord should get you hard!”

  117. 117
    ⚽️ Martin says:

    @burnspbesq: Wouldn’t this serve as a precedent allowing electioneering? Same deal – free speech rights to educate voters, in a public space.

    Couldn’t the following statement be equally valid from the decision:

    In unrefuted testimony, petitioners say they have collectively persuaded hundreds of women african-americans to forgo abortions voting.

    It’s unarguably true. It’s speech. Shouldn’t it also be protected?

  118. 118
    Fort Geek says:

    I was an escort for both clinics in Pensacola. I started a few days before Dr. David Gunn was shot in back of one clinic. I knew Jim Barrett, the escort who was murdered along with Dr. Britton in front of the other clinic. I stood across the street with some of the other escorts who (like me) had rushed to the clinic at the news of the shooting. I can still see the bodies lying under sheets to either side of Jim’s truck.

    In both cases, the dirtbag protestors celebrated.

    These forced-birthers are terrorists and should be treated as such.

  119. 119
    Fort Geek says:

    @opiejeanne: There’s a protest klan (using that word unapologetically) of local Mennonites at our clinic in Pensacola. Before some homeless whackjob did their dirty work for them and firebombed the clinic near my house, the klan took over the entire length of the block in front of the place, from corner to corner. It was run by the men, but they brought their wives and kids to pad out their numbers.

    These same yahoos spend their summers standing at major intersections yelling at us sinners and waving their holy books.

  120. 120
    opiejeanne says:

    @Fort Geek: Terrible.

  121. 121
    Fort Geek says:

    @opiejeanne: Yeah, it is. I don’t know what can be done, though. We tried to get a buffer zone around our clinics, but the City Council was so eaten up with wingnuts and pearl-clutchers (“But what about the FIRST AMENDMENT?! We couldn’t Possibly Infringe Upon Their Rights!”). Their great idea was a “no man’s land” thing where no one–patient, escort, or protestor–could be, which ended up being the grass to either side of the sidewalk. They could and did continue to harass and stalk.

  122. 122
    ⚽️ Martin says:

    @Fort Geek: Interesting. I spent a lot of time around Mennonites in college, and I can’t imagine them proselytizing like that. The folks I worked with were very social justice focused.

    Florida does seem to have an effect on people.

  123. 123
    Chris says:

    There is nothing fucking unreasonable about a 25 foot zone around a clinic. These people will still be plenty capable of being present and shouting abuse at all the women who go in, they just won’t be able to become a human wall obstructing the entrance.

    (I mean, fuck. Hospitals do more than just abortions, don’t they? What happens when somebody in critical condition arrives and before you can run the stretcher in, you first have to clear the entire area of every howler monkey who thinks being told to protest NEXT to the door rather than IN FRONT of the door is a violation of his constitutional rights? It’s a fucking health and safety issue, FFS).

    Ah, never mind. Burnsie’s here again to remind us to Think Of The Bigots, the poor and downtrod. Mea culpa. Carry on.


    I’d like to urge any of you who live near a clinic – especially in more conservative areas or places like Boston where there is a LOT of protest activity – to please please PLEASE go sign up as a volunteer escort.

    Second the motion. It’d be nice if this got the same kind of counter-protesting attention that WBC rallies do.

    (Of course, the only reason the WBC is so unanimously reviled is because they have to drag the military into it: if they simply stuck to saying “thank God for dead faggots” instead of “thank God for dead soldiers,” they’d be mainstream).

  124. 124
    Fort Geek says:

    @⚽️ Martin: Our Mennonites have a big sign on a major road into town: “It’s Your Choice: Heaven or Hell” and their address.

    They seem nice.

    ETA–It’s GOT to be the Florida thing. Psycho fundies are a specialty.

  125. 125
    Chris says:


    I heard that for this case they picked a kindly old grandmother or some shit like that, she just wanted to talk to women going into the clinic. Did it not occur even to the so-called liberals on the court that the typical clinic protest is not kindly soft-spoken grandmothers but rather harassment using ‘free speech’ as a fig leaf?

    It’s also irrelevant. If she’s a kindly old grandmother, she can go and be a kindly old grandmother 25 feet from the door, and if she’s really so kindly and understanding and grandmotherly, she won’t have a problem with that.

    (As an aside, what the fuck is it about religious mouthpieces that makes them think they have the right – no, not in the legal sense – to walk up to random strangers and start conversations on the most intrusively personal topics? That scene from Airplane still makes me happy inside for that exact reason).

  126. 126
    Sondra says:

    @Dolly Llama:
    My thought too.
    There is a law on the books here in Florida that calls for a 100 ft. distance from polling places for people campaigning for candidates.

    As far as I know, no one has ever been killed during voting.

    But Abortion Clinics have been targets for crazies for years. This makes no sense. How did the case make it to the Supremes at all?

  127. 127
    Ramalama says:

    @Morzer: I used to get my health care via a women’s clinic 6 minutes from the Brookline clinic that had the shooting. All up and down Comm Ave were clinics like these and I had to pass through the gauntlet of fetus posters and people praying and yelling at me in my face not to commit murder. I was going for a checkup for chrissake and was about to tell the crowd that, but decided not to. It was none of their bloody business. This was before the shooting up the street.

    The clinic in Brookline where Salvi shot it up was in a building with lotttttts of offices and other services, none of them to do with abortions other than the planned parenthood clinic. My best friend worked at a chiropractic clinic there and he had to pass the gauntlet constantly. When shots were reported on the radio, I knew it was on Comm Ave and guessed that it was in his building.

  128. 128
  129. 129
    Ramalama says:

    @EriktheRed: You beat me to it. I just read it. Brilliant.

    So let’s get out there, every goddamn Sunday, and head to the churches that send their lunatic Jesus-fellaters out to try to shut down Planned Parenthoods, and stand on their sidewalks, just like the one up there outside St. Mary’s in Grafton, and let’s make churchgoing a living fuckin’ hell for ’em. Let’s bodily block the access to the walkways that lead to the church. Let’s bring signs that have pictures of women who were killed by illegal abortions.

  130. 130
    Shakezula says:

    Gosh, does this mean I can stand outside of sperm banks and threaten men who are going to masturbate for cash? What about people visiting fertility clinics? Those non-implanted snowflake babies will be destroyed and I am deeply concerned.

  131. 131
    Shakezula says:

    @burnspbesq: And the Constitutional Rights are Absolute and Without Limits dog has been scolded for soiling the S.C.’s rug on a number of occasions. Try again.

  132. 132
    liberal says:

    Basic thing I think would be to add more escorts. But I also like the Rude Pundits idea very, very much.

  133. 133
    wuzzat says:


    You know, the Church is allegedly anti-IVF as well, but somehow the Catholic Daughters never stage their prayer circles outside the fertility clinics or sperm banks. Kind of funny, in a “despair for all humanity” sort of way.

  134. 134
    Gretchen says:

    @Betsy: weterus! Classic! Well done, Betsy

  135. 135
    Gretchen says:

    @wuzzat: So true. Strange, that.

  136. 136
    Ruckus says:

    There are potential “customers” for the RCC in those sperm banks/fertility clinics.
    Planning parenthood means fewer possible “customers.”
    You have to look at it as a profit possibility. The church does.

  137. 137
    Nathanael says:

    Honestly, a large protest in the Supreme Court’s Public Plaza, harassing all the lawyers who try to get into the court, would seem appropriate. Now that we have this new precedent from the Supreme Court saying that this sort of behavior is OK. :eyeroll:

  138. 138
    Kerry Reid says:

    I know some clinics have used the “pledge a picket” tactic during the High Holy Days of Anti-Choice Lunacy (Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Roe v. Wade Day). The plan is that they get pro-choice supporters to pledge X amount for each anti who shows up, and the proceeds go to funding procedures for indigent women. (Oh, and fuck you in hell, Henry Hyde.)

    The fun part is letting the protestors know that, by their very presence, they are making abortion services more affordable.

    In addition to signing up for clinic escort services, it’s a good idea for those who can afford it to donate to abortion funds around the country.

    Finally, though I don’t recommend heightening conflict when you’re trying to help women and their families get through the crowd, this video shows one good way to turn the “murderer” rhetoric back on the demonstrators in real time. If women who abort are murderers, what is the legal penalty they should pay? Oddly, when pressed, quite a few seem uneasy with the logical consequences of that “murder” line of debate:

  139. 139
    DavidTC says:

    The main problem, as I see it, is location, because the parking situation is atrocious – every patient has to walk the sidewalk to enter, as the is no onsite parking.

    You know, it would be nice for actual liberal groups to, you know, purchase parking for these places. Or help them move.

    I really don’t understand why abortion clinics seem to operate out of such idiotically located positions. It’s like they’re just getting locations haphazardly, with no idea that people might protest. It’s surreal.

    And, yes, I understand there might be trouble trying to buy different property or additional parking, because forced-birthers are the sort of asshats that would run around threatening the former owner of a property…but it’s perfectly legal to purchase property under a front group that exists solely to sell it to the clinic, giving everyone plausibly deniability. (E.g., ‘I didn’t sell it to the clinic, I sold it to a real estate holding company. I didn’t know what they were going to do with it!’ Whether or not the seller actually knew is irrelevant.)

    I especially like the idea of sticking them in strip malls, which not only has on-site parking, but results in an inability to target harassment and makes them look like assholes to everyone.

    How about some of those moderately-wealthy liberal business owners that supports reproductive rights buy some strip malls, and rent one of the shops to a clinic?

  140. 140
    VincentN says:

    SCOTUSBLOG In Plain English

    Although all nine Justices agreed that the Massachusetts law cannot stand, there was no consensus on the reasoning that they used to reach that result.

    Interesting speculation near the end that the more liberal Justices may have recognized that there were not enough votes for the Massachusetts law. And so they may have been willing to sacrifice this law to ensure that, if challenged, other buffer zones are subjected to (and may be able to survive) the same, less stringent test that the Court used in the case.

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