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View Diary: I'll Hold ******* SCOTUS Responsible (364 comments)

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  •  There is no Supreme Court buffer zone. (14+ / 0-)

    You think the justices walk in off the street and need a buffer zone to keep people away from them? It's a funny sort of buffer zone that has Pete Williams broadcasting from it and tourists hanging out on benches and taking pictures. You can walk right up to the building. You can go in the building and get closer to the justices than you ever could in the plaza unless they strolled out to observe as they sometimes do.

    It is a no-demonstration zone, defined long ago by Congress, not this Court. It's now done by regulation while a ruling about the statute is appealed, I believe, but the covered space -- the plaza -- is exactly as it's been for decades. There are reasonable first amendment arguments to make about whether it should be classified as a nonpublic forum (as it has been for decades) or a public one (as the sidewalks are now, after a Supreme Court decision ruling the original law unconstitutional to the extent it covered the public sidewalks) in which demonstrations should be permitted.

    But it is in no sense comparable to the buffer zone at issue in the case of abortion clinics.

    As memes go, this has got to be one of the dumber ones flogged around here.

    •  It is wider than that (36+ / 0-)
      “No person shall engage in a demonstration within the Supreme Court building and grounds,”  the rules say. “The term ‘demonstration’ includes demonstrations, picketing, speechmaking, marching, holding vigils or religious services and all other like forms of conduct that involve the communication or expression of views or grievances, engaged in by one or more persons, the conduct of which is reasonably likely to draw a crowd or onlookers.”

      Whats the difference?

      "I decided it is better to scream. Silence is the real crime against humanity." Nadezhda Mandelstam

      by LaFeminista on Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 01:23:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sidewalk counseling, as loathsome and (8+ / 0-)

        deceitful as that concept is, does not fall in that category. Nor would you likely find a justice to "counsel" on the plaza during a demonstration. That's the distinction I was drawing, because that's what the case dealt with. The "likely to draw a crowd or onlookers" language was specifically added to overcome a constitutional objection to the original statute. Some activities, certainly including one-to-one conversations regardless of content, are permitted on the plaza. Demonstrations, regardless of content, are not and have not been for decades, by a law that long predated this bunch of justices. If you could buttonhole one of the justices for a polite conversation this regulation would not prohibit it. (You might have an issue with a marshal providing personal security if you seemed hostile, but you might not. They often move about without marshals. I didn't see one with Justice Sotomayor at Costco, for example, but who knows?) You could certainly "counsel" one of the lawyers in the case going in or out of the courthouse.

        The comparison between restrictions on pro or anti-choice protest rallies and demonstrations in front of the Court is a good one, but that's not what the case was about. As to rallies, the issue is about whether the Court grounds, defined by statute, are a public forum (demonstrations ok) or a nonpublic forum (can be regulated by the Marshal with approval of the CJ).

        The plaza has long been considered a nonpublic forum for purposes of this analysis. That could change, and the argument that it should is by no means trivial. But the meme that Roberts waved an imperial wand and granted the Court something it hadn't had before, or that it was done to protect the justices from speech, just doesn't hold water.

        Please understand I am not dismissing the concerns about what's actually going on at clinics, or the need for constant vigilance, or the importance of crafting constitutionally permissible restrictions on the abysmal behavior exhibited there. I'm just reacting to the supposed hypocrisy that really isn't demonstrated by this case, and the misinformation that has taken root in that regard.

        •  Polite conversation outside a clinic? (25+ / 0-)

          What planet have you been hiding on?

          Their protests are specifically designed to draw a crowd, in fact the crowd comes ready assembled unlike IKEA

          "I decided it is better to scream. Silence is the real crime against humanity." Nadezhda Mandelstam

          by LaFeminista on Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 01:49:08 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  That mixes the concepts. (8+ / 0-)

            The "draw a crowd" regulation refers to the plaza, not any clinic. Here's the gist:

            1. The SC plaza is, for purposes of demonstrations, a "nonpublic forum." Has been for ages. The Marshal and the CJ are permitted to issue regulations about the use of the building and grounds, which include the plaza. Yes, the Court has a lot of discretion about it, which some of your other comments note. None of this started with Roberts. The plaza may well yet be found to be a public forum because of how it's been used, and the regulation overbroad. I think Hodge v. Talkin is still pending in the appeals court, and that may change things. I'm not prepared to predict, and I think there are good arguments for that.

            2. Even though it's a "nonpublic" forum for first amendment purposes, people are still allowed to use the plaza for many things, which I've described above. Some things that might otherwise be prohibited are permitted when exceptions are made, in a content neutral way -- attorneys for both sides of the Windsor case could give their little press conferences, but the Court couldn't allow just one side to do so.

            3. One of the things that's permitted would be one-to-one conversation, even if that's directed to a stranger like you going up to a justice (if you found one) or lawyer.

            4. The new case involved one-to-one conversation, not a rally. Thus it would fall in the category of stuff that can be done on the plaza. I know this is not representative of what's going on at many clinics, but that's not the issue.

            I'm not arguing that the Court got the decision right about the clinics. Other people have argued that. I'm saying that the claimed hypocrisy of the Court "having a larger buffer zone" is not supportable -- the same behavior that the Court said can't be prohibited as far as 35 feet out also isn't prohibited on the plaza. And the crowd rallies in both cases are permitted in exactly the same places -- on public sidewalks. Again, I'm not saying it's right, I'm saying there is no differential treatment.

            But I see the Scarlet A(pologist) slur has been trotted out for anyone doesn't adopt the meme-o-the-week, so I doubt there's much point in further discussion. For anyone interested, I link to some of the history here  and there are other comments in that thread that lay out the relevant statutes and decisions.

            •  But I see the Scarlet A(pologist) slur (10+ / 0-)

              are you addressing me? Where.

              I just think you are parsing.

              Since when has my health become public domain, since fucking when?

              The SC plaza is, for purposes of demonstrations, a "nonpublic forum." Has been for ages

              "I decided it is better to scream. Silence is the real crime against humanity." Nadezhda Mandelstam

              by LaFeminista on Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 02:49:35 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  No, I was not addressing you on that. (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                coffeetalk, Wednesday Bizzare, hmi

                There comes a point in most of these id-driven threads when one or more commenters make it clear that reason and analysis is not welcome, and that anyone using reason and analysis is not welcome unless the conclusion fully endorses and reinforces the emotion expressed. True for "OMG look at what some bigot wrote on a restaurant receipt" and true for "y'know, the plaza's not really analogous to the buffer zone." Here, I was referring to this comment (which you recced - did you not agree?) but it appears you mean to convey something close to that with "I just think you are parsing." I guess that's become an insult too, but not quite as nasty as "apologist." Yes. I parse: "to study something by looking at its parts closely; analyze critically." Why is that bad?

                I don't think your health is in the public domain.

                Recall that I was responding to a comment about "the Supreme Court's own buffer zone" and not to your diary. In no way did I deny your feelings about the experiences of the staff and patients of the clinics. I share them.

                •  Gee, that's funny (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  allergywoman, Old Sailor

                  This ruling seems to insinuate exactly the opposite, at least when it comes to womens' reproductive health.

                  I don't think your health is in the public domain.

                  "Inevitability" diminishes free will and replaces it with self-fulfilling prophecies."--Geenius At Wrok

                  by lunachickie on Sat Jun 28, 2014 at 08:51:06 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I'm quite certain the ruling (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    insinuated absolutely nothing about what I think.

                    •  Oh, how crafty you are with your English! (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Old Sailor
                      the ruling insinuated absolutely nothing about what I think.
                      What witty sophistry.  

                      When I said

                      This ruling seems to insinuate exactly the opposite, at least when it comes to womens' reproductive health
                      "The opposite" was a reference to the notion of:
                      your health is in the public domain
                      It had nothing to do with "What You Think". But you knew that, of course.

                      "Inevitability" diminishes free will and replaces it with self-fulfilling prophecies."--Geenius At Wrok

                      by lunachickie on Sat Jun 28, 2014 at 12:48:21 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  I did indeed. You were wrong on the point (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:

                        you actually thought you were making, too. But I don't find conversations with you productive, because much of what you do appears to me to be performance art that is not intended to elicit serious discussion. There are less charitable alternative hypotheses, but that's the view I hold right now. You've got plenty of people who appreciate your performances, though, so you won't have any trouble drawing applause. I'll leave you to it on this lovely day.

                        •   Says you (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          Old Sailor
                          You were wrong on the point
                          So your answer was to actually admit to participating in the art of craven sophistry?

                          What talent. All performance art should be as inspirational as yours.

                          "Inevitability" diminishes free will and replaces it with self-fulfilling prophecies."--Geenius At Wrok

                          by lunachickie on Sat Jun 28, 2014 at 01:05:01 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

        •  Sidewalk Counseling (19+ / 0-)

          Includes waving signs with disgusting pictures on them, hurling epithets, touching and grabbing people trying to walk into the building, blocking entrances and forcing their way inside the building.

          Do you think the Supreme Court allows all that to happen in this nice free-speech zone at the Supreme Court?

          •  Yes, even trying to speak with one of them (7+ / 0-)

            without an appointment is so easy

            "I decided it is better to scream. Silence is the real crime against humanity." Nadezhda Mandelstam

            by LaFeminista on Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 03:11:45 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  On the sidewalk, signs & speech (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            coffeetalk, AaronInSanDiego, hmi

            are OK in both places unless they fall into some other category that can be constitutionally prohibited (perhaps "come on, everybody, let's burn this courthouse/clinic to the ground," especially if by someone passing out gas cans and lighters).

            Touching and grabbing and blocking and forcing one's way in is not OK in either place.

            There is no free speech zone at the Court if you mean the kind of pens that have been established around conventions, etc. There's just public (the sidewalk) and nonpublic (the Court building and grounds). The rules applying to the sidewalk are whatever apply to public sidewalks generally. The rules applying to the building and grounds are promulgated by the Marshal and approved by the CJ as permitted by 40 U.S.C. sec. 6102. Like the statute that created the nonpublic area in the first place many years ago, they're subject to challenge like any other restriction on speech. That's how the public sidewalks got opened up to demonstrations in the first place.

            •  Your lengthy and bloviational explanations (3+ / 0-)

              do not change the complete wrongness of the decision or make it acceptable. Its just wrong.

              You know, Villa, there are tons of bad laws and wrong decisions in our history. Try to look at the human side of things, instead of the dry legal sense. These, days, the law is frequently off the mark, due to this disgraceful Roberts court. They do not follow precedent.

              A true craftsman will meticulously construct the apparatus of his own demise.

              by onionjim on Sat Jun 28, 2014 at 12:34:27 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  There are definitely many bad laws and (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                VClib, onionjim

                wrong decisions in our history, some of them made by this Court for sure. My hunch is we're in for worse before it gets better.

                I'm not clear on why you conclude that I'm defending the decision in this case. I've been careful not to. I'm fairly certain -- though a lot of comments have gone by at this point -- that I have commented only about the issue of whether or not the Supreme Court plaza is a "buffer zone" analogous to the one the Court rejected in the Massachusetts law. That has been a major theme because observers have found it to be a convenient gotcha demonstration of hypocrisy. (Just heard it again on MSNBC.) The only cases I've commented on at any length are U.S. v. Grace and Hodge v. Talkin about protest and free speech activities at the Supreme Court, not clinics.

                I did answer this specific question and a couple of others posed about the activities that go on at clinics and whether they could occur at the Court. I think that's as close as I've come, but if you read it as supporting the decision, I'm sorry about that. Others have posted quite a bit more specifically about the case and about the rights of people to walk up to others on the street and shout at them. Perhaps this is guilt by association?

                Pithier comments are more favored here, I know, but if that were my style I'd use Twitter. It's a curse. If only I lived in Dickens' time & could get paid by the word. Sometimes being bloviational is adaptive, sometimes not. I guess that's my burden to bear, at least here, where no one is required to read anything. Thanks for your critique.

                •  Funny you mentioned Dickens. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Villanova Rhodes

                  I was thinking the other day how the attitudes of the ruling elite seem to echo Scrooge to a T.

                  As far as the buffer issue is concerned, how did we get fenced in "free speech zones" and yet this decision at the same time. The cognitive dissonance is deafening.

                  Impossible to deny the hypocrisy here, but nevertheless I find your expertise in these matters invaluable, even if I don't like the message. So, yes, I'm guilty of bloviating too.

                  A true craftsman will meticulously construct the apparatus of his own demise.

                  by onionjim on Sun Jun 29, 2014 at 05:07:04 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  Agreed (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Old Sailor, onionjim

                and that's all that matters to some.

                Never mind the complete, contemptible wrongness. The dry, legal sense is the most important.  

                They do not follow precedent.
                They're turning precedent on its fucking head, affecting our ability to fight that complete and contemptible wrongness. But that just doesn't seem to matter. Only the process.

                Only the process. Never the humanity. it's disgusting.

                "Inevitability" diminishes free will and replaces it with self-fulfilling prophecies."--Geenius At Wrok

                by lunachickie on Sat Jun 28, 2014 at 03:34:34 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  One to one conversation... (10+ / 0-)

          ...implies both people are choosing to engage in it. That's not what we're talking about here. Counseling someone who hasn't sought your counsel, ISN'T counseling. It's protesting and interfering with individuals going about their lives.

          They may call it counseling, but it doesn't make it remotely the right word for it - and because it's not counseling, and is protesting, the buffer zone applies.

          If you walk stand outside a gay bar, and try to tell people they should stop being gay, it's not counseling - it's harassment. And trying to prevent people from using the services of an abortion clinic, because you don't like abortion, is protesting and harassment, not counseling.

          •  That should read... (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Old Sailor, StrayCat, allergywoman

            ....the buffer zone analogy applies.

          •  "Communication" would have been (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            coffeetalk, Darmok

            a better word choice, and if I could edit my comment, I would replace "conversation" with it. Yes, it is sure to be one-way in most instances. That doesn't change the first amendment analysis, but it is more correct.

            •  Communication is a better word... (8+ / 0-)

              ...but I think it DOES affect the First Amendment analysis.

              They are defining what theses people are doing, as counseling - as if counseling individuals you don't know, who haven't asked for your advice, is the same thing as the right to assemble. It's absolutely not.

              The right to peacefully assemble is about protesting or supporting laws and societal behaviors - it's not about the right to protest an individuals personal choices, and force them to listen to your protests in order to enter a public building. Are we next going to let Christian Scientists stand in front of any clinic or doctor, telling people they are agents of satan, if they get a check-up? Are we going to let them stand on the public sidewalk, telling people they'll burn in hell, if they walk into a Walgreens and buy Ibuprofen?

              Part of the point of the First Amendment, is that as long as you're not hurting anyone, you should be free to live your life free of the intrusions of the religious and moral perceptions of others. Forcing women to directly engage with someone, who is condemning and vilifying them, to walk into doctor's office, is going way past stamping on their freedom from religion and their right to individual liberty. The anti-abortion groups are allowed to protest - they should NOT be given room to interfere with the actions of the women walking into the clinics, or to force those women to engage with them - which is what they have done when given the freedom to do so. There is nothing impeding their First Amendment rights, in forcing them to protest where the women do not have to deal with them directly.

              •  This is just not true. (6+ / 0-)
                Part of the point of the First Amendment, is that as long as you're not hurting anyone, you should be free to live your life free of the intrusions of the religious and moral perceptions of others.
                If I'm in a public forum, I absolutely do not have some "right" to be free from hearing about other people's religious or moral disapproval of me, my actions, or my beliefs.  There is no such right.  Part of the price of having a First Amendment is that sometimes, in places that are open to free speech -- like public sidewalks or the public square -- I am going to hear things, or have people say things, that I find horrid and offensive.  I may find the Westboro Baptist Church saying horrid things while they are on a public sidewalk.  I have no "right" to be free from that.  None whatsoever.  That's the price we all pay for OUR right to say things that someone else may find offensive.  

                Now, if I'm in my home, or a privately-owned place, that's different.  

                •  A public forum is not... (5+ / 0-)

                  ... the street in front of a clinic. You can choose to be on Daily Kos, or you can choose to keep your opinions to yourself and not leave people cause to condemn them. You are not being barred from visiting a doctor, or going about your daily life, if someone says something nasty to you on this website. You are not even being forced to deal with them, as you can report their behavior or block them.

                  A public square, talking about a public issue, is one thing. But if every time you walked through an alley that you had to enter for work or to get home, a person was standing there saying something nasty about you and your life choices, and refused to stop when you told them to, you could absolutely file harassment charges against that person.

                  Just because they're not doing it to the same people each time, doesn't change what they're doing. Public comments are one thing - personal comments and attempts to offer unsolicited 'counseling' to strangers are something entirely. Free speech is not the only right - liberty is also a part of our constitutional text for a reason. And people should have the right to walk into a clinic, within earshot of legal protesting, without it being literally shoved in their face.

                  •  So wrong. The Opinion is about a public sidewalk. (4+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Wednesday Bizzare, dfsly, Darmok, hmi

                    Read the opinion.  

                    What was unconstitutional was limiting speech on a public sidewalk.

                    A public sidewalk is pretty much the epitome of a public forum.  See here and here and here.

                    •  I think the problem here is that the two of you (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:

                      have very different ideas about what the term "public sidewalk" means, and that only one of you is referring to it merely in relation to what it is in legal terms.

                      "I like paying taxes...with them, I buy Civilization"

                      by Angie in WA State on Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 07:19:54 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Pretty much.. (5+ / 0-)

                        ...except that I am also arguing that how SCOTUS defined it in these legal terms, was IMO wrong.

                        •  as in a number of their decisions the past 14 or (5+ / 0-)

                          so years now, I too disagreed with their decision today.

                          Not because of the legal definition of "public sidewalk" and how it applies to the expression of one's 1st Amendment Right of speech or peaceable assembly.

                          That their own determination that the behavior of those who are 'expressing their 1st Amendment choice to publicly advocate about abortion' are not actually just expressing  an opinion about a previously decided Constitutional Right (Abortion, 1973) but are actually (in their words) "counseling" the patients whom they are verbally and visually addressing (with their signage and flair) en masse near the entrances of medical clinics where abortion service (may or may not) be offered.

                          THAT is what I disagree vehemently with.

                          It's not that I assume that I lack education on matters of legality, as opposed to the nine Americans who sit on the Supreme Court - I know that I lack such.

                          But I don't see that it requires a Federal Bench knowledge base of matters Legal in these United States to understand that there is a significant and obvious difference between a "counselor" and person protesting outside an 'abortion' clinic.

                          One is contacted by an individual person requesting assistance, then meets that individual person in a setting designed to encourage the feeling of "security" and "safety" in the person requesting the assistance.

                          Later sessions may include other persons such as family members.

                          But like all medical assistance, mental health care is covered by HIPAA and no one else will ever be able to hear about anything discussed in these sessions without the patient's express written permission

                          Now, how could any person on the face of the Earth read that description and think that it in any way refers to persons to be found outside clinics chanting and singing and yelling and shouting obscenities and nasty comments about a complete stranger's moral lacking?

                          That right there is why I'm saying that I disagree with the Court's decision. If this idea I've discussed had one iota of impact on the decision which they handed down? Then they made a mistake. #ItsTHATsimple

                          "I like paying taxes...with them, I buy Civilization"

                          by Angie in WA State on Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 08:02:15 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Their legitimacy as so-called 'counselers' (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:

                            has no bearing whatsoever on the legal issues of this case, although it may be an interesting way to approach sanction these people individually.

                          •  On the contrary... (7+ / 0-)

                            ...if you don't define what they're doing as counseling, which is...

                            the provision of assistance and guidance in resolving personal, social, or psychological problems and difficulties, especially by a professional.
                            ... but instead you define it as harassment, which is...
                            aggressive pressure or intimidation.

                            ... that makes a big legal difference. And I think it makes a difference in this case. For instance...

                            These burdens on petitioners’ speech have clearly taken their toll. Although McCullen claims that she has persuaded about 80 women not to terminate their pregnancies since the 2007 amendment, App. to Pet. for Cert. 42a, she also says that she reaches “far fewer people” than she did before the amendment, App. 137. Zarrella reports aneven more precipitous decline in her success rate: She estimated having about 100 successful interactions overthe years before the 2007 amendment, but not a single one since. Id., at 180. And as for the Worcester clinic, Clark testified that “only one woman out of 100 will make theeffort to walk across [the street] to speak with [her].” Id., at 217.
                            The claim here, is that through counseling she has convinced 80 women to not have an abortion - over 7 years - and absolutely no information is provided on how those women feel about that decision now, or whether they changed they're mind out of pressure and fear, or by their own will.

                            Meanwhile, she freely admits, that only one woman in a hundred wants to walk over and talk to her, when they are free to avoid her. Which means these women DO know she's there, do NOT need her in their way to know what she wants to talk to them about, and most of these women DO NOT want to talk to her.

                            Nothing in that information, suggests to me, that the anti-abortion group is unable to communicate their message - it suggests they're mad they don't get to be more aggressive in communicating it. Which further suggests her behavior isn't counseling, it's harassment.

                            And I'm bothered that the court saw this as evidence their group was being denied the right to communicate to these women, instead of evidence that their communication was perceived by many of the clinic patients as unwanted intimidation.

                          •  Harassment is already illegal and has a remedy (3+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            AaronInSanDiego, StrayCat, VClib

                            outside of the law that was just overturned. If the local jurisdiction is not enforcing their harassment laws, that is an entirely different case.

                          •  Not if the court is defining it otherwise. (5+ / 0-)

                            If the court is defining their actions as counseling, which is most definitely not the same thing as harassment, then it would mean they are not subject to harassment laws. Further their overturn of the law is specifically based on the perception that these people are being denied the ability to counsel these women, in accordance with their first amendment rights. If you don't define what they're doing as counseling, and instead define it as harassment, it changes the entire dynamic of the ruling. In fact, the entire ruling changes if one can show they do anything more intimidating than they claimed in the petition, because it was based on their need to differentiate themselves from the more volatile protestors, that the states obligation to create the buffer zone inordinately affected their ability to pass their message in a calm and respectful way.

                            If you redefine their behavior, you have a petition requesting the right to harass patients and not be blocked by a circle on the ground or an escort, from directly interacting with that patient.

                            Killing someone is already illegal and has a remedy too, but if you do, and you define it as self-defense, but the courts define it as murder, that has a huge impact on the final outcome. The fact that the justices seemed to accept the petitioners description of counseling, plays a big role in why they argued their rights were being infringed upon.

                          •  Harassment? (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            coffeetalk, VClib

                            What is this "harassment" law you keep mentioning?  You've gone back to that in several posts, but I'm not quite sure which statues your referring to? Or at a minimum, tell us specifically what behaviour (by these kind of protestors) constitutes illegal "harassment"?

                            Since your comment here is all about definitions, and defining behaviour, I think it's important for you to define exactly what it is you're talking about.

                            Dammit Jim, I'm a lawyer, not a grammarian. So sue me.

                            by Pi Li on Sat Jun 28, 2014 at 07:49:27 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Harassment has been defined above many times. (0+ / 0-)

                            Including by me. Did you not see the block quotes where I and several others listed the different definitions? I didn't mention harassment 'law' at all. Though there are many harassment laws on the books, in many states and localities.

                            ... in the legal sense, it is intentional behaviour which is found threatening or disturbing.
                            And my comment is part of an ongoing conversation about the difference between counseling someone - which is generally something one seeks not something thrust upon them - and harassing someone into changing their mind.

                            As for the behavior of these people - have you bothered to read the many stories of abuse and vitriol slung by such people? But let's assume these 'counselors' are telling the truth, about how they treat these women. Trying to tell a woman, that a medical choice she has made is morally wrong, and she should risk her own life to give birth to a child she does not wish to give birth to, is most definitely disturbing behavior - and if you start throwing in threats of hell and damnation, it becomes threatening as well.

                          •  The whole point of the law is that those seeking (3+ / 0-)

                            Medical care were not protected by the officials with the duty to do so.  The legislature created a fix for that, and made it easier for the chicken police and prosecutors to do their job.  The same problem existed with the assaults and batteries on gay, and transgendered people, often ending in death.  The legislation creating hate crimes was a fix for the lack of proper response of law enforcement to these crimes.  The Mass. Statute was not any different.  The cited drop in success in stopping abortions was not an effect of an unconstitutional limit on free speech, but the reduction in the amount of fear and coercion that the protestors generated.

                            Patriotism may be the last refuge of scoundrels, but religion is assuredly the first.

                            by StrayCat on Sat Jun 28, 2014 at 08:57:52 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  In fairness, the people petitioning... (8+ / 0-)

                            ... say that they're not doing those things - that only the protesters yelling that stuff get a voice, because they're trying to patiently hand literature to women and offer them a person to talk to up close, and all they can do is scream from a distance.

                            The problem I have is two part.

                            A: These laws will NOT only apply to the petitioners. There will be other people, who use this precedent, to move their vilifying and obscenity laden voices to the path of women entering the clinic. And...

                            B: I don't believe that's all they do. I think, the very fact that these people complain that the clinic escorts don't let them talk to women - giving inordinate voice to the pro-abortion opposition - points to the fact that they do more than offer counseling and move away. This is the 21st Century, and Birthright is all over the place. There aren't many women going into a clinic, who don't know the anti-abortion camp wants to talk to you. Most women walking into a clinic, want the escort to keep these people away from them - that's why the escort is there in the first place, and they know it.

                            Of course, they could just hold a sympathetic sign, with a phone number on it, offering help, away from the scary protesters. But no, they should have a right to speak directly to the patients, and voice their compassionate concern to their faces, forcing those women to either talk to them, tell them to go away, or move away quickly in perceived shame or embarrassment. It's a really bad argument.

                            I highly object to many things about the decision. And the use of the word counseling is seriously pissing me off too.

                          •  Agreed, and I would add that those (5+ / 0-)

                            people "handing out literature" -- a bizarre use of the word "literature" btw, unless meant to be synonymous with "fiction" and/or "propaganda" (and I don't mean that as a knock against you, only as a knock against the general use of that term in these circumstances) -- are part and parcel, indeed even members, of the groups doing the yelling.  

                            It's all one seamless strategy of intimidation and guilt-tripping (in reality, "slut-shaming") by these vile groups.

                            When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered -- MLK, Jr.

                            by caul on Sat Jun 28, 2014 at 03:48:50 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Certainly no offense taken on my part. (0+ / 0-)

                            Your argument is absolutely valid. It's a poor definition of literature as well.

                    •  By Public Forum in the first line... (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Old Sailor, shaharazade

                      I was referring to the Daily Kos site. That's why I made the cracks about blocking. I was making a point about the definitions of a public forum being subjective. If you're walking through a public square, you can walk around and away from a protestor. If you're walking into a clinic with them lined up on the sidewalk, you either deal with them or you don't get access to your medical provider.

                      A public side walk does not automatically give one a 'public forum' position to protest. Even the decision mentions precedent where limitations are assigned on protesting. People can't protest in such a way that prevents people from navigating the street, from entering a place of business. You can't just block traffic without some kind of permit. There are tons of rules which limit protesting, to protect the public and law enforcement officers, to prevent a business owner from having their livelihood unduly affected, and to protect the public good, etc. Some of these same rules were used against the Occupy movement - whether you agree that limitations exist or not, doesn't change that they do.

                      And I did read the decision. But part of disagreeing with the SCOTUS' decision, involves disagreeing with their definitions of terms, and the boundaries they set on the rights of both the protestors and the patrons of the clinics. I believe the state's obligation to protect the liberty and privacy of the women visiting the clinic - as well as the safety of them and the employees - was a higher priority than allowing the protesters to be right at the clinic's sidewalk. Just because I disagree with you, does not mean I am uninformed.

                      But I think the answer is to go the long way, and make such protests against the law in front of any medical clinic - because part of the basis of the decision is that it was unfairly tailored to the anti-abortion movement. So make it illegal to protest in front of a medical facility in general - so the next time a poor family is struggling with whether or not a brain dead woman should have her breathing tube removed, every poor person entering and leaving the hospital - whether recovering from illness/injury, or mourning the death of a loved one -shouldn't have to deal with a mob of screaming protesters. I also don't believe it should be legal to protest a funeral - it doesn't mean I spit on the First Amendment. I just believe it covers more than the person protesting - it has to respect the rights of the people on the other end. I believe those rights need to be weighed with the needs of a grieving family, or a person trying to access medical treatment, not just the person who wants to have their say about those people's personal lives.

                      •  i walk by there all the time (7+ / 0-)

                        there is a super market near there that I go to often

                        and I ride past there on the bus a lot

                        they do block the sidewalk

                        they do scream

                        they are not quiet

                        they are forcing themselves on women who apparently now have no right to just walk into the building in peace

                        Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
                        Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights to talk about grief.

                        by TrueBlueMajority on Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 09:51:37 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                      •  Protects at a medical clinic are and ought to be (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        shaharazade, Old Sailor

                        protected.  However, interference with personal movement, slurs, threats and personal attacks are not protected in any place except medical facilities that perform abortions.  Here the problem is that the court has given anti abortion protests a higher level of protection than other  political protests.  It is reverse content discrimination by the court.

                        Patriotism may be the last refuge of scoundrels, but religion is assuredly the first.

                        by StrayCat on Sat Jun 28, 2014 at 09:03:50 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Are and ought to be... (0+ / 0-)

                          ...protecting who though? Why should a person have to endure abuse, to visit a medical facility? Protecting speech, doesn't mean they can't camp in parking lots or nearby open areas, and force everyone coming and going to endure their opinions. And if that kind of behavior isn't protected anywhere but at abortion clinics, explain the state of the hospital where Terry Schiavo died. They were mostly kept from impeding movement, but they certainly weren't impeded from throwing slurs, threats and personal attacks. And people leaving that hospital, after losing their own loved ones, had to endure that screaming mess, with no regard for the damage it caused them.

                          But your latter point is also fair.  While arguing the law unfairly shut up anti-abortion groups, it ended up giving imbalanced leeway to those very groups insead.

                •  Walking to a doctors appointment at a health (4+ / 0-)

                  clinic is not a forum of any kind, any more than my walking for my health down a public street is a public forum.

                  Patriotism may be the last refuge of scoundrels, but religion is assuredly the first.

                  by StrayCat on Sat Jun 28, 2014 at 08:42:21 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Wrong. A public sidewalk is a public forum. (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Darmok, VClib

                    Under First Amendment law that dates back to 1897.  

                    It doesn't matter WHY you are on a public sidewalk, just like it doesn't matter WHY you are in the public square.  Those are places of traditional free speech rights -- the epitome of what the First Amendment stands for.

                    All this opinion stands for is the First Amendment right to walk up to someone else on a public sidewalk, say something to them, and offer to hand them literature.  All this opinion says is that a law that prohibited that is a law that went too far.  

                    •  No, a street or sidewalk CAN be a public forum, (3+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      allergywoman, shaharazade, Old Sailor

                      and under some circumstances they are.  But they are not always a public forum, and I have the right to peaceably walk or run down the street without being harassed by a group of crazies.  The group of crazies has a right to protest, but if I change my route to avoid them, They do not have the right to follow me and shout epithets at me while I run.  The abortion protestors are not using a sidewalk or street for public protest, but are using every street, lane, sidewalk and alley ad a means of obstructing peoples' right to go about their business.  Announcing and holding a protest at, say, the state house, or an abortion clinic is one thing, but to block all access, or make every path to a clinic a gauntlet is not protected speech.

                      Patriotism may be the last refuge of scoundrels, but religion is assuredly the first.

                      by StrayCat on Sat Jun 28, 2014 at 09:10:04 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  You have it exactly backwards (3+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        dfsly, StrayCat, VClib

                        A public street/sidewalk is a public forum.  Restrictions on speech in those kinds of public forums are very limited.

                        There really is no right to talk down a public sidewalk and not have to listen to things you don't want to hear.

                        But you're also mixing speech with conduct, i.e., physical barriers to people travelling on those streets and sidewalks.  The former is protected speech; the latter isn't speech at all and can be regulated.

          •  Whatever you call it, it's constitutionally (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Pi Li, dfsly, Darmok, hmi

            protected speech.

            If you walk up to me in a public forum like a public sidewalk and tell me "God doesn't want you to abort your baby," it doesn't matter WHAT you call it, it's constitutionally protected speech.  

            •  If that were true, the decision would never exist. (5+ / 0-)

              What qualifies as free speech is constantly up for discussion and under review - or libel and slander laws wouldn't exist. In fact, in nations with similar constitutions to our own, they have amendments which specifically qualify hate speech or blatant falsehoods (not libel because not about an individual) as not protected speech.

              In fact, if we had a 100% across the board agreement among citizens, on what constitutes free speech, we'd barely need a SCOTUS. The entire point of their decision, was defining the protesters actions as free speech - and just because those 7 people all agreed, doesn't remotely mean that's the end all be all definition - even legally it isn't locked in stone. Once upon a time, the SCOTUS all agreed a white man was a citizen and a black man was property.

              20 law school professors in a room wouldn't all agree exactly on what qualifies as free speech, there's no reason 200 people on a message board are going to.

              •  There's a difference between our First Amendment (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                dfsly, hmi

                and other nations.  

                No one who knows ANYTHING about First Amendment law in our country would seriously argue that, walking up to someone in a public forum like a public sidewalk and saying "God does not want you to abort your baby" is anything OTHER THAN constitutionally protected speech.  

                •  Yeah, if I'd said that, you'd have a point. (5+ / 0-)

                  I argued that there are things which are currently deemed constitutionally protected free speech, which should NOT be deemed free speech - you're conflating my arguing with what how the law currently applies, to how it should apply. You said what is constitutionally free speech is obvious and decided - nothing could be further from the truth.

                  I've heard law professors argue, that our First Amendment protections were written with inadequate scope, and were better amended by other nations. And in point of fact, our Bill of Rights was the basis for the constitutional parameters of other democracies that followed it. So whether or not you think it's relevant, doesn't make you correct. It's relevant to many people.

                  And once again, there is a vast and large difference, between walking up to someone and saying that, and standing in someone's way and saying that.  You're missing the impediment point.

                  •  Hmmm (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    You said what is constitutionally free speech is obvious and decided - nothing could be further from the truth.
                    Well, actually much of what is considered "constitutionally free speech" is in fact, already settled and decided. Though as this most recent case indicates, that does not stop state legislatures from passing laws which run afoul of the First Amendment.
                    I've heard law professors argue, that our First Amendment protections were written with inadequate scope, and were better amended by other nations.
                    Well that's wonderful. I've heard law professors argue this also. And I've heard many who argue the opposite. They, like you, me, and everyone else, are free to pass whatever judgments you wish on the US Constitution.

                    But it IS the US Constitution, not the Australian Constitution nor that of any other country. And as long as it exists in the form it does, it's the SCOTUS that gets to decide what it all means.  If you prefer what some other country has done with the template the writers of the Constitution created, there is a mechanism for changing it, and there is nothing to stop you (or anyone else) from pursuing such an endeavour.

                    Dammit Jim, I'm a lawyer, not a grammarian. So sue me.

                    by Pi Li on Sat Jun 28, 2014 at 08:36:42 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  If it were decided, we wouldn't need courts. (0+ / 0-)

                      There are constant and ongoing cases, where the discussion of what constitutes free speech, and what crosses the line into libel, slander, hate-speech and any number of other definitions, are under discussion. It most definitely is not settled and decided. Even this very ruling, mentioned specific precedent, which limits the use of speech and protest, based on location, times, and many other factors. Again, if what constitutes free speech were etched in stone, the justices would've had no reason to make this decision at all, because MA wouldn't have been able to set a law which so clearly broke the firm rules of free speech.

                      The point to my second statement, was in direct response to the comment above, saying that no one who knows anything about our constitution would say that the free speech clauses of other countries are relevant. They are relevant to the discussion of the mistakes of our administrations and courts - whether anyone else believes they are relevant or not. You need to read the threads in context or you'll miss the point of individual responses. My statement was that it is relevant to many people, and to the discussion - NOT that it decides how we change or observe our own First Amendment.

                      And yes, SCOTUS decides - until another SCOTUS decides later, and changes the ruling. Or until a constitutional amendment is passed, overruling SCOTUS, as people are trying to do with Citizens United.

                      Which again, reinforces the notion that absolutely nothing is set in stone.

            •  Yes, if that were all that was happening, you (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              allergywoman, shaharazade, Old Sailor

              would be correct, but the flooding of every way into a clinic and Turing a walk from your car to your doctor into a gauntlet is not protected. Grabbing a person is a battery. Hipping a person so that they lose their balance is a battery. Threatening a person with consequences is they get an abortion is an assault.  I'm an absolutist when it comes to the first amendment, but the amendment governs speech, assembly and press, not acts and criminal threats or interference with the right of freedom of movement by our fellow citizens.

              Patriotism may be the last refuge of scoundrels, but religion is assuredly the first.

              by StrayCat on Sat Jun 28, 2014 at 09:16:22 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  and I was SO DAMNED ANNOYED (7+ / 0-)

            that men like Roberts and Alito and Scalia and Kennedy who pretend to be so intelligent could not understand that simple truth!

            Counseling someone who hasn't sought your counsel, ISN'T counseling. It's protesting and interfering with individuals going about their lives.

            Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
            Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights to talk about grief.

            by TrueBlueMajority on Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 09:48:34 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  What do you think is disallowed in the (4+ / 0-)

      "buffer zone" surrounding clinics that offer abortion services? Durr?

      "Much of movement conservatism is a con and the base is the marks." -- Chris Hayes

      by raptavio on Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 01:27:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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