Supreme Court Asked to Clarify Double Standard for Free Speech at Abortion Clinics

Supreme Court Asked to Clarify Double Standard for Free Speech at Abortion Clinics Life Legal Defense Foundation Challenges Discriminatory Massachusetts “Bubble Zone”

(September 17, 2013 – Washington, DC) “There is often one set of rules for free speech at abortion clinics that bear little resemblance to the rules that apply everywhere else,” stated Dana Cody, Executive Director of Life Legal Defense Foundation (LLDF). This “abortion exceptionalism” is key in the amicus curiae, or friend of the court brief filed this week in the United States Supreme Court case, McCullen v. Coakley.

In this case, seven Massachusetts residents who engaged in pro-life counseling outside of abortion clinics sued the state for violation of their right to free speech through enactment of a “buffer zone” law. The statute created a thirty-five-foot fixed buffer zone around driveways and entrances of reproductive health care facilities. The lower court upheld the buffer zone despite its unfair impact on pro-life speech. Life Legal Defense Foundation argues that this buffer zone is unconstitutional.

The brief asserts the interests of LLDF and of Rev. Walter Hoye, an Oakland, California pastor. Hoye’s peaceful pro-life advocacy led to a conviction for violating Oakland’s prejudicial “bubble zone” law. Ultimately, Hoye spent thirty days in jail for his refusal to agree to stop his free speech activities at the local abortion clinic. His conviction was later reversed on procedural grounds and Rev. Hoye won his civil challenge against the City of Oakland.

State and local governments have targeted pro-life speech, however, as these laws have been enforced it has been proven that they are used as tools to silence pro-life speech. Such “viewpoint discrimination” is a direct contrast with the First Amendment.

“Governments should not be permitted to practice this ‘abortion exceptionalism’ and single out sidewalks around abortion clinics as special enclaves in which speech can be restricted,” said Cody. “The idea of a ‘bubble zone’ makes a mockery of government neutrality in the marketplace of ideas,” she added.

Read Life Legal Defense Foundation and Walther B. Hoye II’s Amici Curiae brief filed in the Supreme Court of the United States HERE

About Life Legal Defense Foundation
Life Legal Defense Foundation was established in 1989, and is a nonprofit organization composed of attorneys and other concerned citizens, committed to giving helpless and innocent human beings of any age, and their advocates, a trained and committed voice in the courtrooms of our nation. For more information about the Life Legal Defense Foundation, visit