Washington D.C., Oct 15, 2013 / 15:55 pm
The 2013-2014 Supreme Court term, which began Oct. 7, will address several prominent issues in the public square, including freedom of speech for pro-life demonstrations, prayer in legislative settings, and religious freedom.
Limits on pro-life protests outside of abortion clinics are being challenged in the upcoming case "McCullen v. Coakley." The petitioners argue that a Massachusetts law limiting sidewalk counseling for women entering abortion clinics violates the First Amendment.
They claim that limiting the enforcement of a 35-foot "buffer zone" around abortion clinics to pro-life counselors and other non-employees is an example of a selective exclusion law targeting a specific viewpoint in a public space.
The ruling will affect the interpretation of First Amendment rights for protestors, and could implicitly reveal the court's interpretation of the importance of abortion, its view of the procedure as "health care," and the value of individuals' freedom of speech in public spaces.