Abortion

The Supreme Court ruled today in McCullen v. Coakley that a Massachusetts law creating a buffer zone around abortion clinics violates the First Amendment. The law criminalized standing on a public sidewalk within 35 feet of an abortion facility, with narrow exceptions for employee and law enforcement access. Eleanor McCullen, the lead plaintiff, is a grandmother in her late seventies who stood on sidewalks near clinics in order to initiate quiet, one-on-one conversations with women seeking abortions. The Court held today that the buffer zones created by the law burden substantially more speech than necessary to achieve the Commonwealth’s interests.

The Court was unanimous in its judgment that the law violates the First Amendment rights of anti-abortion speakers such as Eleanor McCullen. So, why is McCullen so disappointing to conservatives?

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Oh Roy Moore, you delightful little publicity hound. Alabama’s Chief Justice is no stranger to making ridiculous pronouncements about what he thinks the law is despite all evidence to the contrary. Most recall his earlier stint running the Alabama Supreme Court, which ended in an ethics ruling after the Chief wasted around half a million in taxpayer dollars fighting — and then willfully violating — court orders seeking removal of the Ten Commandments from the court. It turns out when judges encourage disrespect for the rule of law it’s an ethical violation.

It was all so ludicrous. Even Moses removed his Ten Commandments display.

But Alabama being Alabama, the voters returned Moore to the post of Chief Justice. Roll Tide.

Over the weekend, video surfaced of his latest round of nonsensical ramblings. And while the comments about the First Amendment are certainly shocking, he also goes off on abortion and inadvertently lends support to Roe v. Wade in the process….

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* Dewey know which D&L defendants did the perp walk of shame before their arraignment yesterday? Three of the ex-executives! Even Steve Davis, who quit his job as in-house counsel to Ras al Ghul Khaimah of the UAE last week. [Am Law Daily]

* It’s about half and half when it comes to states that have filed briefs with the Tenth Circuit in support of or against the rulings striking down gay marriage bans in Utah and Oklahoma. Sadly, not everyone can be as fabulous as we’d like. [National Law Journal]

* Abortion clinics are closing their doors in Texas thanks to new legislation, and the total number of clinics in the state come September will be six. Let the Mexican medical tourism commence. [New York Times]

* Illegal immigrants can’t practice law in Florida, says the state’s Supreme Court, but they can in California. Good thing there’s eleventy billion law schools there to accommodate them. [Miami Herald]

* Webster Lucas, the fellow suing McDonald’s over an alleged race-based napkin denial that’s since prevented him from working, has sued fast food joints before. He’s a “vexatious litigant.” [NBC Los Angeles]

“Best amicus brief ever” might not be saying much. Parakeets are pretty indifferent to the liners of their cages.

Every now and then, though, we come across amicus briefs that are a little unusual or interesting. Like one with somewhat surprising or high-profile signatories — say, NFL players, or leading Republicans in favor of gay marriage. Or one that takes the form of a cartoon. Or one that’s just bats**t insane.

Today we bring you an amicus brief that will make you laugh out loud — which shouldn’t be surprising, given that it’s being submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of a leading humorist….

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“Do you want me to write an opinion and say there’s no free speech right to quietly converse on an issue of public importance?”

– Justice Anthony Kennedy, in oral arguments for McCullen v. Coakley

On Wednesday, the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments in McCullen v. Coakley, a constitutional challenge to a Massachusetts law creating buffer zones, sometimes called “zones of exclusion,” around abortion clinics. The law at issue, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 266 § 120E ½ (2007), provides in part as follows: “No person shall knowingly enter or remain on a public way or sidewalk adjacent to a reproductive health care facility within a radius of 35 feet of any portion of an entrance, exit or driveway of a reproductive health care facility.” Eleanor McCullen, one of the challengers of the law, is a 76-year-old grandmother who in the past has stood on public sidewalks near abortion clinics in order to initiate one-on-one, non-confrontational conversations with women seeking abortions. The petitioners claim that, over the years, hundreds of women have accepted offers of help from McCullen and the other petitioners. They argue that the new law violates their right to free speech.

The First Circuit opinion below characterizes the plaintiffs’ appeal as advancing “a salmagundi of arguments, old and new, some of which are couched in a creative recalibration of First Amendment principles.” That opinion finds that “[t]he Massachusetts statute at issue here is a content-neutral, narrowly tailored time-place-manner regulation that protects the rights of prospective patients and clinic employees without offending the First Amendment rights of others.”

Unfortunately, the First Circuit is wrong about each of those points. Even more unfortunately, this law does the exact opposite of what most of us would hope . . . .

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “An Intimate Conversation From 35 Feet: A Misguided Abortion Clinic Buffer Zone Law”

If you want to be a partner at one particular firm, it’d behoove you to know this guy…

* Breaking News: “An Indian diplomat has been indicted on federal charges of visa fraud. Prosecutors say Devyani Khobragade has left the U.S.” [CNN]

* The Bancroft firm just added three new partners. It’s apparently “not a prerequisite” to clerk for Chief Justice Roberts to be a partner at the firm, but it sure looks like it is. [The Blog of the Legal Times]

* Pressure is mounting on courts to recognize that Americans have a reasonable expectation of privacy. Do these people not watch Person of Interest? [Ramblings on Appeal]

* In a continuing series on why the “nuclear option” isn’t the panacea liberals thought it was, here are four reasons why Noel Canning is still a huge deal even if the Senate Democrats can force through judicial nominations over filibusters. [Constitutional Accountability Center]

* A fun interview with a lawyer turned professional athletics commissioner. Specifically, the commissioner of Sterling Archer’s favorite sport, lacrosse. [The Legal Blitz]

* Vermont is looking to pass a bill affirming abortion as a right, majorly bucking the trend of the rest of the country over the last year. Sounds about right for the state with a socialist senator. [Jezebel]

* The NFL’s concussion settlement sounded kind of fishy already, but now it looks like the initial prediction is going to be way off. [PR Log]

* Turns out a former SAC Capital Advisors trader embroiled in an insider trading case was expelled from Harvard Law School in 1999 for creating a false transcript. It’s good to know Wall Street is right there for all those cast off by law schools for ethical lapses. [Dealbook / New York Times]

* More coverage of the Insane Clown Posse suit, and more insight from our own Juggalo Law. [Washington Post]

* Chris Brown rejected a plea deal on an assault charge. Any time I think of Chris Brown I think of this Key & Peele bit. And if you don’t know who Key & Peele are, then you’re missing out… [Billboard]

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Amy Chua: She’s baaaaaaack!

* “Either access to abortion will be dramatically restricted in the coming year or perhaps the pushback will begin.” We’re moving back in history. Here’s hoping pro-choice advocacy will be born anew in 2014. [New York Times]

* George S. Canellos, the SEC’s co-chief of enforcement, announced his departure on Friday, and people are already wondering whether he’ll return to his old stomping grounds at Milbank Tweed. [DealBook / New York Times]

* We hope legal educators had fun at the Association of American Law Schools annual meeting, but we hope most of all that they learned what needs to change to really make legal education pay. [WSJ Law Blog]

* “I believe women lawyers can contribute a lot to the legal system.” Saudi Arabia now has its first female law firm dedicated to bringing women’s issues to the country’s patriarchal courts. Congratulations! [RT]

* A Starbucks spokeswoman issued a defense to the cease-and-desist response letter that went viral worldwide, and it reads just like how her company’s coffee tastes: bland. [International Business Times]

* Amy “Tiger Mom” Chua is back with a vengeance, co-authoring a controversial new book (affiliate link) with her husband, Jed Rubenfeld. Which ethnic cultural groups are superior? [New York Post]

The Michigan Legislature recently passed the “Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act” into law. Under the new law, women and employers must buy an optional insurance rider for abortion coverage. Abortions will only be covered without a rider if the mother’s life is in medical danger. The law also specifically allows for the treatment of miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies.

Detractors referred to the bill as requiring “rape insurance.” Michigan Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer (D – East Lansing) said, “This tells women that were raped and became pregnant that they should have thought ahead and planned for it.”

If there were such a thing as rape insurance, I surely would buy it. What woman (or likely future prison inmate) wouldn’t? No, this is abortion insurance, not rape insurance.

What the opponents of the new Michigan law seem to conveniently overlook when choosing their inflammatory and misleading rhetoric: (1) Abortion does not fully, meaningfully address the harms of rape. (2) Rape does not necessarily, or even usually, involve abortion. (3) Foreseeing an individual need for abortion insurance does not require extraordinary foresight. But let’s look a little more closely at what’s going on in Michigan . . . .

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Sorry, Patton Boggs…

* The right to choose… to drive out of state? SCOTUS rejected an application to block Texas from enforcing a law requiring abortion doctors to have privileges at nearby hospitals. [New York Times]

* Patton Boggs should prepare for the day when Locke Lord is too busy washing its hair to go on a date. The would-be merger is just one of many “interesting opportunities” the firm is considering. [Am Law Daily]

* In case you were wondering about the type of people who are accepted into Greenberg Traurig’s residency program, the recent law grad profiled in this article went to Nova Southeastern. [Sun Sentinel]

* Law firm merger mania, mid-size Midwest edition: Chi-Town law firm Shefsky & Froelich merges with Cincinnati-based Taft Stettinius & Hollister. [Crain's Chicago Business]

* When it comes to law faculty hiring, it doesn’t matter what color your skin is or what you’ve got between your legs, so long as your résumé is covered in Ivy and you’re dripping with prestige. [National Law Journal]

* Ave Maria School of Law is in need of a new dean. It seems the man who created the school’s “Advanced Critical Thinking Department” engaged in deep thought before deciding to call it quits. [Naples Daily News]

This is the latest in a new series of ATL infographics — visual representations of our own proprietary data, relevant third-party data, “anecdata,” or just plain jokes.

Last month, ATL hosted a well-attended event previewing the current Supreme Court Term. Our special guest was preeminent Supreme Court advocate and analyst Tom Goldstein. Our own David Lat conducted a lively interview with Goldstein, covering the major cases on this Term’s docket as well as Goldstein’s insights into Supreme Court advocacy generally. It was an educational evening for all, and, in the words of one attendee, “funny and brilliant is always a fantastic and rare mix in a speaker.”

Today’s infographic distills some of the evening’s observations and insights into a SCOTUS “cheat sheet.” Thanks to AccessData for sponsoring this free event, and look for upcoming events in your area….

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