McGuire v. Reilly

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Determined the Constitutionality under the First Amendment of a Massachusetts state law that protected persons near reproductive health care facilities from unwanted approaches closer than six feet.

Full Case Titile: 

McGuire v. Reilly, 260 F.3d 36 (1st Cir. 2001)

Year: 

2001
  • Reproductive Rights
  • Anti-Choice Violence
  • Authored Amicus Brief

Brief: 

Summary of the Case

Under consideration in this case is the Constitutionality of the Massachusetts Reproductive Health Care Facilities' Buffer Zone Act under the First Amendment. The law bars protestors within 18 feet of reproductive health care facilities from knowingly approaching within six feet of people without their consent. The law closely tracked the buffer zone laws upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in Hill v. Colorado.

Our Role in the Case

Legal Momentum filed an amicus brief in this case to support the Massachusetts Reproductive Health Care Facilities' Buffer Zone Act against a First Amendment challenge. The brief argued that the buffer zone law was a constitutional regulation of physical proximity, not speech, and the decision upholding the law noted the "exemplary briefing by the parties and various amici."

Decision

The federal district court struck down the statute, but the First Circuit Court of Appeals reversed this decision and affirmed the Massachusetts Buffer Zone Act. Comparing the Massachusetts law to the law upheld in Hill, the court concluded that the Massachusetts law restricted less speech than the Colorado law. The First Circuit also found the Massachusetts law "content neutral" because it outlaws only "nonconsensual approaches" within a floating six-foot bubble around a patient or clinic worker. Finally, like the law upheld in Hill, the Massachusetts law is narrowly tailored to protect significant governmental interests in protecting safe access to reproductive health care facilities. 

Amicus Brief

Opinion