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Supreme Court considers protesters' rightscomment (0)

January 27, 2000

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments Jan. 19 over the limits that might be placed on the free-speech rights of demonstrators who offer “sidewalk counseling” outside abortion clinics.

The case centers around a Colorado law that requires protesters to keep at least eight feet away from people entering health-care clinics unless someone agrees to closer contact to take a leaflet or talk.

Attorney Jay A. Sekulow, representing three protesters, asked the justices to reverse a Colorado Supreme Court ruling upholding the law. Sekulow argued that the law “makes the peaceful distribution of a leaflet, the display of a sign … a crime if prior consent is not obtained,” the Associated Press reported.

Eighteen states are supporting Colorado.

The demonstrators are backed by such groups as the American Civil Liberties Union and the AFL-CIO. The ACLU’s brief said that protecting women’s right to seek medical treatment is a significant goal, but they believe the law goes too far by preventing speech – such as passing out a leaflet – that would not prevent someone from entering or leaving a clinic.

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