Supreme Court: Abortion Buffer Zone Law Violates the First Amendment

In a unanimous decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that the Massachusetts law that established 35-foot buffer zones around abortion clinics “violates the First Amendment.”

“The Massachusetts Act violates the First Amendment,” the decision states. “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.’”

“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,” Roberts wrote in the decision. “Respondents assert undeniable significant interest in maintaining public safety on those same streets and sidewalks, as well as preserving access to adjacent healthcare facilities.