Congress Shall Make No Law (Except if Abortion is Involved)…

Legislators, activists and especially judges often seem to operate from the assumption that laws related to abortion should be evaluated according to different rules than other laws. Today’s Projo has an sensible editorial reminding its readers that this shouldn’t be the case…

Under current Massachusetts law, anti-abortion protesters must observe a six-foot “bubble” within 18 feet of any abortion provider. (In other words, within 18 feet of a clinic, protesters must stay at least six feet away from anyone entering or leaving. Leave it to legislators to put their diktats in garbled language!)
The state Senate has approved a bill to expand the buffer zone around abortion clinics. Under the proposal, which is expected to be passed and signed into law by Governor Patrick, protesters would be prohibited from coming within 35 feet of a clinic’s property line. Importantly, this includes silent protesters, and apparently applies to people standing otherwise lawfully on private property — even their own.
Those who believe that this further restriction on the “right of the people to peaceably assemble” (from the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution) is justified, should ask themselves this: As a matter of law, would they favor a 35-foot buffer zone around military recruitment offices? Or keeping immigration-reform demonstrators 35 feet away from all federal buildings?
According to the op-ed, even the ACLU opposes the new Massachusetts law because of its over-broadness. (The ACLU has a mixed record on no-free speech “bubbles” in general, with the national organization having supported some narrow ones in the past, sometimes over the objections of local chapters).

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