The Supreme Court (of the United States) handed down several rulings last week, many of them truly significant in their reach. These included limits and capabilities of what the EPA can regulate, limits on Executive Orders, limits on Recess Appointments, a unanimous decision for civil liberties in that police now need a warrant to search the contents of your cell phone (which SCOTUS pointed out was now a “mini computer” with your life stored on it), and they eliminated the buffer around abortion clinics on First Amendment grounds (another unanimous decision, and one that I’m less happy with).
World Net Daily was ecstatic about the last one, posting no fewer than four stories about it. My view is perhaps best characterized by their snippet from The Guardian, which they included under their “Out of Left Field” section: “Supremes’ Ruling Protects Gauntlet of Horror.” Basically, a woman is going to have an abortion, making a very difficult decision, and she is harassed in the last few feet trying to get in the doors of the clinic. Harassed by people showing photos of bloody infant corpses, saying she’ll burn in hell, being screamed at through a megaphone, etc. What many states (16, I think, including Massachusetts which was the subject of the SCOTUS decision) have tried to do – to strike a balance between right to free speech and right to access to the abortion clinic – is to establish a buffer zone. You can scream and rant outside that zone, but those last few feet are off-limits. So at least you can get to the door without needing to fight through people.
Now, SCOTUS has ruled that buffer zone unconstitutional. Though I don’t think the decision invalidates the “bubble zones” that they upheld as constitutional, that are 8 ft from the clinic’s door. Personally, I don’t see how 35 ft is that much different from 8 ft — you can still see all the signs, hear all the protests, etc. It seems like more of a free-access and anti-violence thing to me, which was the whole point of the Massachusetts law (enacted in the wake of violence at a Boston clinic).
WND did a three-paragraph snippet from NBC News when it first came out (“Supremes Hand Huge Victory to Pro-Lifers”), and then Bob Unruh published his column on it (“Pro-Life Forces Consider Next Step in Free-Speech Fight”), and later in the day, Greg Corombos did his (“‘Huge’ Supreme Court Ruling ‘Boggles the Mind'”).
Interestingly, Unruh’s column only has nine comments, which is very surprising to me. His stuff about The Gay typically gets 20 times that. Corombos’ column got many more comments, with 164 when I wrote this post. I’m not going to get into the comments, they are what you would expect from WND.
What I’ll end with is what some of the more liberal bloggers (and Rachael Maddow) have somewhat ironically pointed out: SCOTUS’ hypocricy in this issue. The Supreme Court itself forbids all protests on the plaza to their building, roughly 252 feet wide. To quote Boston Magazine:
The court’s rules about protests on their grounds don’t apply to the sidewalks surrounding the building, but those areas are roughly 252 feet from the court’s doors. The buffer zone separating the plaza from the sidewalks is meant to keep the area clean and safe, and maintain “suitable order and decorum” on the property, according to the regulations.