Thursday, January 16, 2014

Carrie Severino on SCOTUS - #3

I was lucky enough to be on a conference call yesterday with Carrie Severino, who will speak at the MCFL Caucus in DC.  She put together the brief with testimony of post-abortive women who say they wish there had been someone outside the clinic.

Carrie said the justices made the point that there are already federal and state laws against harrassing, "being in someone's face, etc."  Clinics can get injunctions against people who regularly cause trouble. The justices got Massachusetts to admit that they have never enforced any of these, that they just went directly to a draconian buffer zone.
Carrie explained that the law could have the purpose of blocking congestion or it could deal with the content of speech.  Since laws which would have solved the congestion problem were never enforced, then the law is meant to be content-based - clearly unconstitutional.
Justice Kennedy also got the state to admit that the congestion problems had arisen when pro-ab protesters arrived at pro-life protests and intentionally caused trouble.  Kennedy postulated that a group could intentionally cause trouble to get a law it wants. He continued in the same vein citing examples like strikers.  He said the law is content-based which is the state choosing sides.

Carrie said that Chief Justice Roberts didn't speak.  It could be that he is still worrying about the image of the Court or it could be he is going to work on a broader consensus than the 5-4 for us, which seems pretty certain.

I had thought that the court leaves decisions on controversial issues until the end of June and that this one should not be that controversial.  Carrie said the timing of the decisions depends on how long it takes the Court to make them.

Here is the transcript:

Eleanor McCullen and the other plaintiffs have done a great service for this country!


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