Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Freedom of Speech to Take Another Hit as Supremes Hear Case on the Right to Harass Those Seeking an Abortion

Perverting a Basic Right for Conservative Purposes

The Supreme Court is going to hear a case that involves the state of Massachusetts trying to protect the rights of those who seek an abortion, and the efforts of anti-abortion rights advocates to intimidate and harass those women exercising their rights.  The state allows abortion clinics to have a small area around the clinics where unwelcome protesters may not approach their patrons.

By law, Ms. McCullen must stay beyond a buffer zone outside the clinic’s entrance, which she says violates her right to free speech.
It doesn't

The state’s attorney general, Martha Coakley, who is the lead defendant in the suit, said the 35-foot buffer zone created by the 2007 law was a necessary response to an ugly history of harassment and violence at abortion clinics in Massachusetts, including a shooting rampage at two facilities in 1994.

“This law is access balanced with speech balanced with public safety,” Ms. Coakley said. “It has worked extremely well.”

The law is under attack by those who would use the veil of free speech to verbally attack and abuse.  And while free speech certainly means the freedom to be free of unwelcome speech, and certainly means the prohibition of using free speech to intimidate and threaten, the Supremes are likely to rule against Massachusetts and for the intimidators.

The reason for this is that for the conservative Justices, verbally attacking and harassing women seeking an abortion is accepted behavior because they are anti-abortion.  And for some reason the other Justices consider the right to harass and impose one’s speech on other a part of the Bill of Rights.  It is not.

Of course the easy way to illustrate that is for someone to approach Justice Scalia as he goes about his ordinary business and yell and harangue him.  Within 30 seconds such a person would be arrested, jailed and sent to prison.  After all, freedom of speech stops when it personally affects someone like Justice Scalia.

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