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Supreme Court upholds precedent in allowing abortion clinic buffer zones

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear a challenge to a New York state law allowing a buffer zone for abortion clinics, essentially upholding 23 years of federal precedent.

Days after the Supreme Court overturned last year's Roe v. Wade, it ruled in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization that the U.S. Constitution does not guarantee the right to abortion and that the issue should be decided by each state. – Newchester County, Newchester County, York passed a local law making it a misdemeanor to knowingly come within 8 feet of another person entering an abortion clinic for the purpose of protesting, counseling, or handing over items. .

According to the law, penalties include fines or up to six months in prison, while repeated violations can result in up to one year in prison.

Debra Vitaliano, a Catholic “sidewalk counselor” who worked outside family planning clinics to present abortion options to women, said the law violated their First Amendment rights. He sued Westchester County last November, alleging that Although the Second Circuit later ruled that Westchester County's “bubble zone” law was a valid restriction on content-neutral, time, place, and manner speech, Vitaliano's precedent for abortion clinic buffer zones The matter was brought to the Supreme Court, seeking to overturn it. .

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The Supreme Court issued a brief order Monday refusing to hear the controversy, upholding the 2nd Circuit's ruling based on 23 years of precedent. No objections were accepted.

The Supreme Court rejected an appeal of the abortion clinic buffer zone precedent. (Mandel Gann/AFP via Getty Images)

“Pregnant women in need have the right to know that they and their children will be loved, protected and supported. Westchester County said it spoke to women outside abortion clinics with a message of hope. Vitaliano, a Westchester County resident, responded to the Supreme Court's refusal to hear the case in a statement to FOX News Digital on Monday. And he said this.When I asked the Supreme Court to take my case, Westchester County struck down the law, recognizing that there was no need to threaten a woman with jail time for peaceful conversation. No government official should try to prohibit thoughtful conversation on public sidewalks. ”

In 2000, the Supreme Court ruled in Hill v. Colorado, a 1993 case that made it illegal for a person within 100 feet of the entrance to a medical facility to “knowingly approach within 8 feet” of another person without that person's consent. decided to uphold the state law. “To pass out flyers and leaflets, display signs, and provide verbal protests, education, and counseling.” [that] The decision essentially declared it appropriate to restrict the free speech rights of pro-life protesters within 100 feet of an abortion clinic.

Pro-life protesters outside SCOTUS

Pro-life activists protest near the Women's March rally in front of the U.S. Supreme Court Building on June 24, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

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Lawyers with the Beckett Fund for Religious Freedom, who are representing Vitaliano, argued that in appealing the issue to the Supreme Court, “If the First Amendment protects anything, it must protect peaceability on important issues.” “It protects the right to have face-to-face conversations.” It’s a public sidewalk,” The Hill reported. Students for Life of America, the Christian Law Association, the Knights of Columbus, which hosts the annual March for Life, and 14 Republican attorneys general supported Vitaliano's appeal. did.

“There is no abortion exception to the First Amendment,” the AGs said in court papers supporting Vitaliano's appeal. “Sidewalk counseling is not second-class speech. Government regulation of it must meet the same standards as any other content-based regulation. The Hill was wrong from the moment it was decided, and this court alone can fix it.”

Pro-abortion activists other than SCOTUS

On June 24, 2023, pro-abortion activists march to the U.S. Supreme Court. (Anna Rose Leyden/Getty Images)

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In last year's Dobbs decision, Justice Samuel Alito, along with four conservative justices, cited Hill v. Colorado and ruled that Roe v. Wade “perverted the tenets of the First Amendment.” Earlier, Alito had claimed that Hill vs. Colorado was a “wrong decision” and is now “null and void.”

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