Edwards v. City of Santa Barbara

If you are being watched, leave now!

Determined the constitutionality under the First Amendment of a city ordinance restricting protester activity near health care facilities and houses of worship.

Full Case Title: 

Edwards v. City of Santa Barbara, 150 F.3d 1213 (9th Cir. 1998), cert. denied, 526 U.S. 1004 (1999)


  • Anti-Choice Violence
  • Authored Amicus Brief


Summary of the Case

This case concerned a First Amendment challenge by anti-choice activists to a buffer zone ordinance that regulated demonstration activity around reproductive health clinics and places of worship in Santa Barbara, California. Enacted in May 1993, the ordinance created two kinds of buffer zones.

  1. First, it required any person engaging in demonstration activity within 100 feet of a health care facility or place of worship to withdraw to a distance of at least eight feet from any person when asked to do so ("floating buffer zone").
  2. Second, it prohibited any demonstration activity within eight feet of driveway entrances to health care facilities or places of worship ("fixed buffer zone").

The Santa Barbara City Council passed the ordinance in response to a history of obstructive and confrontational anti-choice activity, and after a state court injunction had failed to protect access to reproductive health care.

Our Role in the Case

Legal Momentum filed an amicus brief in the Ninth Circuit with the pro bono assistance of Proskauer, Rose LLP in support of the buffer zone ordinance.


In 1995, a federal court enjoined enforcement of the ordinance. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed and remanded the case for further consideration. On remand, the district court upheld the floating buffer zone provision, but struck down the fixed buffer zone around driveway entrances. The city appealed that decision. In August 1998, the Ninth Circuit upheld the eight-foot fixed buffer zone around driveway entrances and struck down the eight-foot floating zone. In March 1999, the Supreme Court denied certiorari.