images (3) ruth

In a recent interview, Associate Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader-Ginsburg touted her ability to recall Supreme Court cases and decisions in detail. She said that she would consider her inability to do so as an indication that she was too old to do the job. The fact that she can recall the cases but not the specific Constitutional foundation for the ruling, suggests that she has already reached that stage, together with many of her colleagues.

This is evidenced by the case before the court on whether so called pro-life advocates have a right to accost patients entering clinics that offer abortion services.

Buffer zones are not new; they were used extensively during civil rights marches and desegregation.  Harvard University, facilitated and perhaps instigated by Elena Kagan, denied United States Armed Forces recruiters access to its student body.

The first amendment to the Constitution says the right to free speech shall not be abridged. However, there is no Constitutional right to be heard. The fourth amendment to the Constitution says that people have the right to be secure in their person, meaning they do not have to tolerate people with whom they have no inclination or legal obligation to converse. The fourteenth amendment to the Constitution says that no citizen shall be denied the equal protection of the law.  Massachusetts is required by the Constitution to ensure its citizens’ rights are protected; which can include the use of buffer zones; whether thirty five feet or thirty five miles.

The court seemed to question the size of the buffer zone as if looking for an area to impose a compromise, which is not an appropriate approach for the court. It suggests that the court is failing to consider that nothing precludes the patient from going outside the buffer zone should they choose to talk with the protesters; and the government has no right to subject citizens, against their will, to protesters.

There could well be untoward, unintended consequences should the court fail to answer the right question. Suppose the court rules the zones to be excessive because the protesters are well-intentioned. Could not a husband or boyfriend against whom a buffer zone had been imposed, pursuant to a restraining order, challenge the distance because it impeded his ability to attempt reconciliation and salvage of  his marriage/relationship? Could not pedophiles challenge the size of the buffer zones imposed against them relative to areas with children?

The court needs to reduce the question to the basic Constitutional question and it would sure help if they had an app for that.


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