The U.S. Supreme Court took a very interesting step the other day.
Years ago, anti-abortion protestors would surround clinics in the Boston area and harass women as they entered the facility. In response, the Massachusetts legislature enacted into law a state-wide “bubble zone.” This was a protest-free zone of 35 feet around the entrances and driveways of the clinics.
The zone was meant to protect women seeking abortion services and the clinic staff while giving protestors an opportunity to exercise their First Amendment rights. Let me say parenthetically that I totally support the right of protestors to express their opinion, to hold up ugly signs, to scream and yell at anyone they want. It’s the same freedom I exercised as an anti-Vietnam war protestor. But the zone was a good compromise for protestors and for women seeking unhampered access to a clinic.
This law was challenged in court and, a short while ago, the challenge made its way to the desks of the Supreme Court justices. I’m talking about the Supreme Court that is run by Chief Justice Roberts, Samuel Alito and Antonio Scalia, no friends of supporters of abortion rights.
Yet, on Monday the justices turned down the appeal from the anti-abortion protestors which, in effect, affirmed the constitutionality of the law. This was a clear victory for those who believe that women should have access to abortion facilities.
The justices did not offer any opinion. They just refused to consider the case, knowing their action would uphold the bubble zones.
It’s unfortunate that it took years and years of violence, of taunting, of physical intimidation to get these bubble zones established (they are all over the country). Still, Monday’s development was most welcome.