Supreme Court hears arguments on abortion clinic 'buffer zones'

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] heard oral arguments [day call, PDF] Wednesday in two cases. In McCullen v. Coakley [transcript, PDF; JURIST report], the court is considering a Massachusetts law that establishes "buffer zones" for abortion clinics. The buffer zone [Planned Parenthood backgrounder] creates a protected area outside of the abortion clinic where people are not allowed to protest. The law creates a 35-foot buffer zone on the driveways and entrances to the facilities. The US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit upheld the law [JURIST report] in January. The questions before the court are (1) whether the First Circuit erred in upholding Massachusetts' selective exclusion law under the First and Fourteenth Amendments, on its face and as applied to petitioners; and (2) if Hill v. Colorado [opinion] permits enforcement of this law, whether Hill should be limited or overruled.

In US v. Castleman [transcript, PDF] the court is considering whether a conviction for misdemeanor domestic assault qualifies as a conviction for a "misdemeanor crime of domestic violence" under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(9) [text], which makes it a federal crime for people convicted in state courts of "misdemeanor crime of domestic violence" involving the use or attempted use of physical force to later possess a firearms. Castleman was indicted on two counts of firearm possession, but the United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee [official web site] dismissed both counts, ruling that his misdemeanor was not for a domestic violence crime requiring "the use or attempted use of physical force," which the court felt required violent contact. The US then appealed to the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit [official website], which affirmed [text] the district court's ruling.

 

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