Scalia: There Are Two Versions of the First Amendment, One for Pro-Lifers, One for Pro-Choicers

by Patrick Brennan

Today, the Supreme Court unanimously struck down a Massachusetts law that established a 35-foot buffer zone around abortion clinics in the state, preventing people who don’t have particular business in that space from standing there. The plaintiffs were abortion opponents who claimed that the law prevented them from politely speaking with women entering an abortion clinic. The majority opinion in the case, authored by Chief Justice Roberts, found that the law was unnecessarily broad, by impinging on spaces — sidewalks, for instance — traditionally considered public fora.

But it is also fairly widely accepted that, while there certainly can be restrictions on free speech for various practical reasons, governments cannot engage in “viewpoint discrimination,” of which Justice Scalia argued the Massachusetts law is a practical example (since employees of the clinic and “escorts” for women seeking abortions were allowed in the area). Color Justice Scalia unsurprised as to which viewpoint is being discriminated against:

(His opinion begins on page 35 of the decision.)

Via Joe Carter of the Acton Institute.

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