Supreme Court Rejection of Massachusetts' Free Speech Attack is a Victory for 40 Days for Life, Pro-Life Activists
Contact: Shawn Carney, 40 Days for Life
WASHINGTON, June 26, 2014 /Christian Newswire
/ -- "The U.S. Supreme Court decision that overturned Massachusetts' overly restrictive buffer zone law is a victory not only for 40 Days for Life but also for all who stand in peaceful witness to offer positive alternatives to women who feel they have no choice but to seek abortion," said Shawn Carney, 40 Days for Life campaign director.
40 Days for Life, through the efforts of Americans United for Life, had submitted two amicus curiae briefs in the case, McCullen v. Coakley. The state law that was challenged in this case sought to create 35-foot zones around all abortion facilities in Massachusetts -- areas in which pro-life free speech rights would be suppressed.
Since 40 Days for Life began in 2007, there have been 55 peaceful, 40-day prayer vigils held outside abortion centers in seven different Massachusetts communities.
"All participants sign a pledge to obey the law and exhibit Christian behavior at the vigils," Carney said. "The threat of this legislation has not only reduced the number of campaigns in Massachusetts but also reduced the number of volunteers participating at the locations where vigils were held."
The Supreme Court opinion puts it plainly: "The Massachusetts Act violates the First Amendment." The justices go on to note that "By its very terms, the Act restricts access to 'public way[s]' and 'sidewalk[s],' places that have traditionally been open for speech activities and that the Court has accordingly labeled 'traditional public fora.'"
"The Supreme Court got it right," Carney said. "We are hopeful that the chilling effect this law has had -- not only in Massachusetts but also in other areas where such legislation has been proposed -- will quickly begin to thaw in the wake of this common-sense, unanimous ruling." NOTE TO EDITORS: Questions about the text of the decision itself, the amicus briefs and specifics of the Massachusetts law should be directed to Americans United for Life (www.aul.org).