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US Supreme Court to hear arguments Wednesday in ‘Cradle of Liberty’ buffer zone case

High court will consider constitutionality of Mass. law that censors free speech of pro-life advocates
Published On: 10/18/2017

Attorney sound bite:  Steven H. Aden

WHO: Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys and allied attorneys
WHAT: Available for media interviews following oral arguments in McCullen v. Coakley
WHEN: Wednesday, Jan. 15, at approximately 12 p.m. EST (immediately following all arguments, which begin at 10 a.m. EST)
WHERE: U.S. Supreme Court, 1 First St. NE, Washington


WASHINGTON — Attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom will be available for media interviews Wednesday following oral arguments at the U.S. Supreme Court regarding the constitutionality of a Massachusetts law that creates a 35-foot “buffer zone” restricting pro-life advocates from speaking with people entering abortion facilities.

Alliance Defending Freedom filed the lawsuit McCullen v. Coakley in 2008 with then lead counsel and allied attorney Michael De Primo and has also provided funding for the case since then. De Primo is currently litigating the case together with two other allied attorneys, Philip Moran and Mark Rienzi. Rienzi, professor of constitutional law at Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law, is now lead counsel alongside attorneys with the Washington, D.C. firm Wilmer, Cutler, Pickering, Hale & Dorr, LLP.

“Women considering abortion have the right to talk to whomever they please on public sidewalks,” said Rienzi, who will argue before the court Wednesday. “That includes peaceful pro-lifers like Eleanor McCullen, who just wants to offer information and help to those who would like it.”

“The government cannot be allowed to create censorship zones where the First Amendment doesn’t apply,” added De Primo. “This buffer zone censors speakers from engaging in constitutionally protected speech. We hope the Supreme Court will agree and strike down the law that created the zone.”

On Nov. 13, 2007, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick signed into law S.B. 1353, which created the buffer zone. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the case, McCullen v. Coakley, in June of last year.

“Peaceful pro-life citizens should be able to freely share their message to mothers in vital need without having to shout from outside a ‘First Amendment-free zone,’” explained Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Steven H. Aden, who will also be available for media interviews following oral arguments. “Massachusetts has no constitutional basis for creating speech-restricted zones because it wants to inhibit a message to which it is politically opposed.”

  • Fact sheet: McCullen v. Coakley
  • Pronunciation guide: De Primo (dih-PREE’-moh), Rienzi (Ree-EN'-zee)
Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
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