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McCullen v. Coakley Ends Pro-Life Speech Free Buffer Zones, Eighteen years after Schenck v Pro-Choice Network

By Deacon Keith A Fournier
7/1/2014 (3 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

On Thursday, June 26, 2014, in a unanimous opinion styled McCullen v. Coakley, eighteen years after the Supreme Court opinion in the Schenck case, the Court has finally finished the job. They put an end to bubble or buffer zones preventing Pro-Life speech. Though all nine Justices voted to strike down the buffer zones, they did not all agree on the reasons for doing so.

The scourge of procured abortion as some kind of acceptable choice, now protected by the police power of the State, has progressed through the suppression of the truth about what really occurs in every procured abortion.  Very few people argue that the child in the womb is not a human life any longer. They simply prevent the mothers and fathers of those little boys and girls from hearing the truth. I encourage all Pro-Life counselors and those who know a special call to service standing outside of these horrid places where children are killed in the womb to take courage from this Supreme Court decision in McCullen v. Coakley and redouble your efforts.

Pictured: Father Paul Schenck before he was a catholic priest, on the cover of Life Magazine. On Thursday, June 26, 2014, in a unanimous opinion styled McCullen v. Coakley, eighteen years after the Supreme Court opinion in the Schenck case, the Court finally finished the job. They put an end to bubble or buffer zones preventing Pro-Life speech.

Pictured: Father Paul Schenck before he was a catholic priest, on the cover of Life Magazine. On Thursday, June 26, 2014, in a unanimous opinion styled McCullen v. Coakley, eighteen years after the Supreme Court opinion in the Schenck case, the Court finally finished the job. They put an end to bubble or buffer zones preventing Pro-Life speech.

WASHINGTON,DC (Catholic Online) - During the years which I spent as the Executive Director of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) in the 1990's, I appeared as co-counsel with Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow on several Supreme Court cases.

One particular case stands as a sort of bookend for that chapter of a missionary life at the intersection of faith and culture. It was a federal court case I appeared in, right before Jay Sekulow became the Chef Counsel and I settled into the role of Executive Director, helping to build that public interest law firm into prominence. 

It began in the Western District Federal Court in New York and was called Schenck v Pro-Choice Network of Western New York. It made its way through the Federal system and, many years later, was successfully argued by Jay at the US Supreme Court in 1996.

It was also the last case I participated in before I left that post in 1997. I left to continue further theological studies after my ordination to the Clergy, the Order of Deacon in the Catholic Church 1996. I also left to pursue other efforts at the intersection of faith and culture where I still stand.

The case arose out of one of many acts of heroic witness to truth about the sanctity of every human life given by now Father Paul Schenck, a dear friend, holy man, prophetic voice and significant figure in Pro-Life history. At the time, Fr Paul was a protestant minister and one of the major leaders in the great human rights movement of our age, the pro-Life movement.

It was the heroic witness of he and his identical twin brother, Rev. Rob Schenck, which encouraged me in my decision to leave Steubenville, Ohio in 1991 to move to Virginia Beach at the invitation of Pat Robertson to help start the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ). 

I sat at the counsel table on October 16, 1996 in the Supreme Court of the United States. It was a privilege to serve as as co-counsel to one of the best Advocates in contemporary American history, Jay Sekulow. When Jay finished his argument, I was convinced that he had succeeded in keeping the door open for the Pro-Life message.

In 1997 the US Supreme Court released its opinion. and he had succeeded - at least partially. He was able to persuade them to burst the floating bubble zone which worked to block some pro-life speech in New York.
 
The New York law which required those sharing the Pro-life message to remain 15 feet away from women considering an abortion was clearly an unconstitutional infringement on Free Speech. The floating buffer or bubble zones actually accompanied the person to whom the Pro-Life speaker was communicating and applied even on public sidewalks. Only Pro-Life speech was precluded.

Those floating buffer zones were properly struck down by the US Supreme Court as unconstitutional.

However, the efforts of those who oppose the fundamental human right to life and want to prevent Pro-Life speech did not end with that case. The opponents of the Right to Life for our youngest neighbors want to stop the truth about life from being shared outside of the centers where our youngest neighbors in the womb are killed continued in various ways in several States.

In 2007, in my home State of Massachusetts, a constitutionally repugnant law was passed which made it a criminal act to stand on a public sidewalk within thirty five feet of an abortion facility. The State which had once boasted of believing in the robust interpretation of the First Amendment has now led the movement toward content based discrimination of speech.

This is only one more example of why the tired old political labels no longer apply in our day. What is liberal about content based discrimination of speech? How intolerant of opposing messages the new cultural revolutionaries have become while still calling themselves progressive.

On Thursday, June 26, 2014, in a unanimous opinion styled McCullen v. Coakley, eighteen years after the Supreme Court opinion in the Schenck case, the Court has finally finished the job. They put an end to bubble or buffer zones preventing Pro-Life speech. Though all nine Justices voted to strike down the buffer zones, they did not all agree on the reasons for doing so.

However, the end result was to complete the unfinished work of bursting the bubble, doing away with the buffer, which prevented the truth about life from being shared outside of abortion facilities. This case is tremendously important for all who know the objective truth that every single human person has a fundamental Right to Life.

The scourge of procured abortion as some kind of acceptable choice, now protected by the police power of the State, has progressed through the suppression of the truth about what really occurs in every procured abortion.  Very few people argue that the child in the womb is not a human life any longer. They simply prevent the mothers and fathers of those little boys and girls from hearing the truth.

I encourage all Pro-Life counselors and those who know a special call to service standing outside of these horrid places where children are killed in the womb to take courage from this Supreme Court decision in McCullen v. Coakley and redouble your efforts.

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