The Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously rejected a Massachusetts law that created 35-foot buffer zones around entrances to abortion clinics.
The law was prompted by a history of violence, including 1994 shootings at two facilities.
Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that the state claimed “undeniably significant interests in maintaining public safety on streets and sidewalks, as well as in preserving access to adjacent health care facilities.”
But it took an “extreme step” in shutting portions of public sidewalks to protesters exercising their free speech rights, he wrote in a decision that suggested the state could pursue the same goals in other ways.
“The Attorney General alluded to the fact that the Supreme Court has its own buffer zone,” said Walz. “It was silent today about the constitutionality of its own buffer zone. It side-stepped the issue of whether or not its own buffer zone is constitutional, but the rationale expressed in the decision today certainly calls into question the constitutionality of the [court’s] buffer zone, so it will be interesting to see going forward how they address the applicability of today’s decision to what they get the benefit of each and every day that the women in our healthcare centers will no longer get the benefit of.”