OpEd Buffer Zone Supreme Court Decision June 2014

Worcester Telegram & Gazette

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Court restores pro-lifers’ rights


By Roderick P. Murphy

On June 26, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously (I repeat, unanimously) in McCullen v. Coakley that the enforced buffer zones on the public sidewalk in front of Massachusetts abortion facilities are unconstitutional. For seven long years those government-imposed buffer zones tyrannically abused the First Amendment rights of Massachusettss citizens. It is serendipitously coincidental that America’s birthday followed right after that momentous decision. The Declaration of Independence’s enduring legacy is that it sought to overturn the long abuses and powers of tyrants. It reminds us that we must be ever vigilant of state tyranny against American citizens. President Calvin Coolidge said regarding the Declaration that the “rights of citizens ought to be protected with every power and resource of the state, and a government that does any less is false to the teachings of that great document — false to the name American.” I suggest Coolidge was crystal-balling and indicting the despotic, one-party Commonwealth of Massachusetts. So how did the crucible of the American Revolution, Massachusetts, become the trampler of civil rights? Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia had the answer in his buffer zone concurring opinion: “Today’s opinion carries forward this Court’s practice of giving abortion-rights advocates a pass when it comes to suppressing the free-speech rights of their opponents. There is an entirely separate, abridged edition of the First Amendment applicable to speech about abortion.” Justices Anthony Kennedy and Clarence Thomas joined in that concurrence. Another voice on this subject was George Orwell of “Nineteen Eight-Four” fame. He wrote, “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” That “separate, abridged edition of the First Amendment” is what prevailed here in our Democrat- controlled Bay State. So thanks to Justice Scalia, we now understand why in 2007 this obviously unconstitutional law passed 122-28 in the Massachusetts House and by voice vote in the Massachusetts Senate. And we see why Attorney General Martha Coakley didn’t declare that law unconstitutional. Rather, she spoke in favor of it at the Statehouse hearings and then legally defended it (unsuccessfully) at the Supreme Court. And now we understand why Judge Joseph Tauro of the U.S. First Circuit Court in Boston twice ruled that the buffer zones were constitutional. All that because we pro-lifers operate under a “separate, abridged edition of the First Amendment.” Until McCullen, millions of citizens who believe that abortion kills a real but preborn baby had a truncated Bill of Rights with only nine amendments — no First Amendment. I note that Gov. Deval Patrick, Ms. Coakley, House Speaker Robert DeLeo, and Senate President Therese Murray are plotting another, as yet unknown violation of our civil rights to replace the vile buffer zones. They should read the Scalia concurrence again. It also said the following: “Protecting people from speech they do not want to hear is not a function that the First Amendment allows the government to undertake in the public streets and sidewalks.” Bluster from phony politicians should be expected, but new unconstitutional laws will be challenged right away. We all know now that our lawyers are smarter and better than Coakley’s. Mark Rienzi, the Catholic University law professor who argued the case, said the decision meant that “the government cannot reserve its public sidewalks for Planned Parenthood, as if their message is the only one women should be allowed to hear.” And the Madison, Wisconsin City Attorney, Matthew May, in suspending Madison’s buffer zones, said the following: “In light of the Supreme Court decision, we suspended enforcement to figure out what, if anything, is left of the ordinance,” May said. “If you read the decision, I’m not sure there’s much of Hill left.” So there is still one branch of government, the U.S. Supreme Court, that honors the Constitution. With the McCullen victory pro-lifers have become full American citizens with an unabridged Bill of Rights. Although pro-lifers are pleased with the unanimous buffer zone decision, we weep for the 20,000 preborn babies aborted every year in Massachusetts. There were three unalienable rights granted to Americans by the Declaration of Independence — life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I speak for each of those 20,000 babies: “Where are my unalienable rights?” Roderick P. Murphy is director of Problem Pregnancy of Worcester, Inc.

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