The Supreme Court unanimously struck down Massachusetts' abortion buffer zone law this morning, "ruling in favor of anti-choice protesters who argued that being required to stay 35 feet away from clinic entrances is a violation of their freedom of speech."
"By its very terms, the Act restricts access to 'public way[s]' and 'sidewalk[s],' places that have traditionally been open for speech activities and that the Court has accordingly labeled 'traditional public fora,'" the opinion states. "The buffer zones burden substantially more speech than necessary to achieve the Commonwealth's asserted interests."Shaker SuzanneF wrote this powerful piece about buffer zones and what actually goes on outside clinics under the auspices of "free speech." And it's pretty fucking rich for nine justices to sniff haughtily at people who want a safe space for women and others just trying to access healthcare, when "the Supreme Court itself has a large buffer zone around it to prevent protesters from picketing on its 252-by-98-foot plaza, requiring demonstrations to take place on the sidewalk."
Reproductive rights advocates had been hoping the justices would uphold the policy, which they say has gone a long way to ensure that woman can safely enter abortion clinics. More than 30 pro-choice organizations filed an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to rule in favor of Massachusetts' buffer zone, which was approved in response to a mass shooting at several of the state's abortion clinics.
...Thursday's decision may put other areas' buffer zones in jeopardy, too. Now that Massachusetts' policy has been invalidated, it could pave the way for opponents to strike down similar laws on similar grounds. In practical terms, that means it's probably about to get harder for many women to access clinics.
I don't even know what else to say. Fuck you, SCOTUS. Must be nice to have a permanent job with terrific healthcare in a safe building, from which you can abstractly prioritize harassment defined as "free speech" over the basic safety of vulnerable women.
All the discussion of this case will be about "free speech" rights, but what actually happened today is that the Supreme Court of the United States just empowered one of the most brazen, unapologetic terrorist campaigns in the nation, at the expense of the people they target.
That ain't justice.