Just in from the Supreme Court: despite a request from Attorney General Martha Coakley to deny review, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear a constitutional challenge to a 2007 Massachusetts law that expanded the previous “floating” buffer zone law to a larger, fixed 35-foot buffer zone in and around abortion clinics. The party seeking review asked the Court not only to review the MA law, but also to overrule Hill v. Colorado, an earlier buffer zone case, and the Court has agreed to consider that request. So, this is a potentially very big deal that will extend well beyond Massachusetts. The case is called McCullen v. Coakley.
The Court also agreed to hear an extremely important case regarding presidential recess appointments. The case, called NLRB v. Noel Canning, is expected to resolve questions that have arisen recently as to whether the practice of presidential recess appointments during relatively short recesses – which has been going on for well over a hundred years – is constitutional. This case has the potential to significantly realign the balance of power between the president and Congress. I’d expect both McCullen and Noel Canning to be argued next fall and decided next winter or spring.
News of today’s opinions is just starting to filter in now. I’ll update later as necessary.
UPDATE: Planned Parenthood of MA has issued a statement in response to the Court’s decision to hear McCullen. The statement is on the flip.
President and Chief Executive Officer of Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts (PPLM), Martha (Marty) Walz, responded to the announcement that the Supreme Court will hear arguments on the Massachusetts Buffer Zone Law in the next session with this statement:
“People seeking health services should be able to do so without fear of violence, harassment or intimidation. The Buffer Zone Law is necessary to ensure the privacy, dignity, and safety of women who seek health care at Planned Parenthood and other medical facilities. That’s why I was a lead sponsor of the 2007 Buffer Zone Law when I served in the House of Representatives. As CEO of Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts, I’ll keep fighting for this law on behalf of our patients and staff.
“Courts across the country have upheld the constitutionality of buffer zone laws. All of us at Planned Parenthood are grateful for the work of Attorney General Martha Coakley, who is a champion of our state’s Buffer Zone Law, and we are confident she will successfully defend the Buffer Zone Law before the Supreme Court.”
First passed in 2000 and expanded in 2007, the Buffer Zone Law in Massachusetts creates a 35-foot, fixed buffer zone around the entrances and driveways of reproductive health care facilities, including Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts health centers in Springfield, Worcester, and Boston.