BURLINGTON, VT – The cities of Burlington, Vermont, and Madison, Wisconsin have opted to suspend enforcement of their laws requiring pro-life sidewalk counselors to stay away from abortion facilities.
Burlington City Attorney Eileen Blackwood said today the Supreme Court's ruling last week striking down a similar Massachusetts law convinced her that Burlington's ordinance – which requires counselors to stay 35 feet away from abortion facilities – violates the Constitution.
“Last Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an opinion in the McCullen v. Coakley case dealing with a Massachusetts buffer zone law,” Blackwood said in a statement. “In response to the Supreme Court decision, the Burlington Police Department has suspended enforcement of” that part of the law forbidding pro-life speech within 35 feet of the city's Planned Parenthood office.
However, she said, police would continue to arrest and prosecute anyone accused of “knowingly obstructing, detaining, hindering, impeding, or blocking a person's entry to or exit from such a facility.”
“At the July 14, 2014 City Council meeting, I will ask the City Council to amend the ordinance to reflect these changes and to refer the ordinance to the City Council's Ordinance Committee for consideration of any other amendments that may be reasonable and consistent with the Supreme Court's opinion,” she said.
Meanwhile, the mayor of Madison, Wisconsin, has agreed to halt that city's 100-foot zone around abortion facilities.
Click “like” if you are PRO-LIFE!
“The reasoning of the Supreme Court raises significant concerns, in my opinion, about the continued validity of the Madison ordinance,” City Attorney Michael May wrote in a memo to Mayor Paul Soglin this week, according to The Capital Times.
At the time of the McCullen v. Coakley decision, O. Carter Snead, a professor of law at the University of Notre Dame, said that laws to “impose draconian restraints on this type of interaction on public streets and sidewalks are unconstitutional and cannot stand.”
He called the decision “a unanimous rebuke to state legislatures around the country who might be considering such misguided and unconstitutional laws.”
Similar ordinances remain on the books in numerous cities around the country.