McCullen V Coakley

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Running Head: Case Opinion Analysis: Mccullen V. Coakley McCULLEN V. Coakley Case Opinion Analysis For the purpose of this paper I choose to place an opinion applet to the case of Supreme Court of the United States no. 12–1168. Eleanor McCULLEN, et al., petitioners v. Martha Coakley, attorney general of Massachusetts, et al .on writ of certiorari to the United States court of appeals for the first circuit argued on January 15, 2014 and decided June 26, 2014. Following an enactment of the legislature to regulate speech on designated areas on health facilities offering abortion. Holding: The Massachusetts law which makes it a crime to stand on a public road or sidewalk within thirty-five feet of a reproductive health care facility violates the First Amendment. The most important enquiry presented by this appeal is the tolerable extent to which the Massachusetts statute is at par with the constitution and whether the statute violates the First Amendment with regards to the petitioners talking to the women in health facilities in the aim of talking them down not to take the abortion procedure Some of the those who stand outside Massachusetts abortion clinics are impartially described as protestors, who express their moral or religious antagonism to abortion through signs and chants or, in some cases, more aggressive methods such as head-on opposition. Petitioners take a different method. They try to engage women approaching the clinics in what they call “sidewalk counseling,” which involves offering information about alternatives to abortion and help taking those options. The Massachusetts statute confers it a crime to knowingly stand on a public way or sidewalk within 35 feet of an entrance or driveway to any place, other than a hospital, where abortions are performed.

Mass. Gen. Laws, Ch. 266, 120E½ (a), (b) (West 2012). The Petitioners are the entities who approach and talk to women outside such amenities, trying to discourage them from ta king the abortions. The statute inhibits petitioners from doing so near the facilities’ entrances. The epicenter of this case is based on the mass. Gen. Laws Ch. 266 120E ½ (2007) the act. the pertinent provisions of the act are detailed in some detail in which the alleged persons are restricted from the public and sidewalks of reproductive health care amenities which are within the marked buffer zones which span 35 feet of any portion of the driveway entrance or exit or such an area created by extending the boundaries of the same locations to the point which there is intersection with the street sideline in front of such a driveway, entrance or exit. This act in the revision of 2000 however exempts the persons leaving or entering the indicated facilities, the employees and the agents of the facility, the law enforcement personnel, utility personnel firefighting ambulances and public works staff. It also exempts the people using the areas with the sole purpose of right of way to get to their destination. On 16th of January 2008 this action was brought against the Massachusetts attorney general in the federal district court with an allegation of a varied constitutional claims and invoking 42 U.S.C. 1983. The court separated the plaintiff’s facial challenge from their as applied challenge thus addressing the facial challenge and upholding the act. Following an appeal the court held that the act was a content neutral, valid and viewpoint neutral. The plaintiffs over breadth claim was rebuffed by citing the Hill v. Colorado 530 U.S 703(2000) from which the Supreme Court upheld a Colorado statue which controlled communicative activities within 100 feet of healthcare facility entrances.

Finally, it was ruled that the Act did not constitute an unlawful prior restraint on protected speech. What remained then was the plaintiffs as applied challenge. As a threshold matter it invokes the case of doctrine counterattacked the plaintiffs’ effort to reargue the facial constitutionality of the Act. Next, it allowed the defendants’ motion for judgment on the pleadings with regard to seven as-applied counts. Id. at 141-45. Resulting to whether the Act, as applied, constituted a valid time-place-manner directive, the court concluded that the only trial worthy subject concerned the suitability of alternative channels of communication at the affected facilities. Id. at 145. Following a bench trial, the court upheld the Act as applied. McCullen III, 844 F. Supp. 2d at 213-25. The essential or salient facts; In line with magistrate court holding the act on its face is constitutionally valid time place manner regulation .the court had a finding that the law of the case doctrine barred re litigation of the issue. The law of the case e doctrine constitutes of two branches which both apply in the case brought forward; one which embodies the mandate rule “prevents re litigation in the trial court of matters that were explicitly or implicitly decided by an earlier appellate decision in the same case.” United States v. Matthews, 643 F.3d 9, 13 (1st Cir. 2011) (internal quotation marks omitted). The second “binds a successor appellate panel in a second appeal in the same case to honor fully the original decision.” For certainty, the law of the case doctrine concedes of certain exceptions.

But the conditions giving escalation to those exceptions are scarcely bounded: A party may avoid the application of the law of the case doctrine only by showing that, in the relevant time frame, controlling legal authority has changed dramatically; or by showing that significant new evidence, not earlier obtainable in the exercise of due diligence, has come to light; or by showing that the earlier decision is blatantly erroneous and, if uncorrected, will work a miscarriage of justice. Although the plaintiffs refer in desultory fashion to the third exception, they make no reference to the second exception and their only claim pertains to the first exception. The plaintiffs base their claim on recent verdicts of the Supreme Court standing for the wholly unremarkable proposition that content-based and speaker-based speech restrictions are disfavored, Snyder v. Phelps, 131 S. Ct. 1207 (2011); Citizens United v. FEC, 130 S. Ct. 876 (2010). The propositions for which the plaintiffs quote the above cases are no more than conservative First Amendment principles declaimed by the Supreme Court in the setting of actual scenarios far different form the scenario presented by the issue at hand . The verdict on which the plaintiffs depend on most profoundly Citizens United — is symbolic of this point. Citizens United domineered Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce, 494 U.S. 652 (1990), which had held that corporate entities, with contrast to other speakers, could be forbidden from engaging in partisan speech. The plaintiffs contend that Citizens United proclaimed, at first, an umbrella ban on all speaker distinctions, whatever the situation.

This unconditional ban, they say, should serve to invalidate the Act as a speaker-specific restriction. This is an imprecise interpretation of Citizens United. The Citizens United Court alleged that government cannot entirely forbid corporate political speech. In support, it raised the “central principle” laid out in First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti, 435 U.S. 765 (1978), to the effect “that the First Amendment does not permit political speech limitations based on a speaker’s corporate affiliation .” Citizens United, 130 S. Ct. at 903. Going by fact, the act makes no such distinction. The plaintiffs, however, are undeterred. They seize upon a remote statement in Citizens United: “Prohibited, too, are restrictions distinguishing among different speakers, allowing speech by some but not others.” But they tug this statement from its context and they neglect to mention that the Court cites Bellotti a case that substantially precedes this proposition. It appears that The Court’s dependence on Bellotti is not a mere chance. After all, the Citizens United Court pronounced its decision as a reappearance to classic First Amendment jurisprudence rather than a withdrawal therefrom.

The Court did not withdrawal from its well-settled abortion clinic/buffer zone jurisprudence. Seen in this light, the court of appeal could not read Citizens United as undermining the First Amendment foundation on which our rejection of the plaintiffs’ facial challenge rested. With reference to the Snyder case, in which the Court held that the First Amendment excludes tort liability against persons who had peacefully remonstrated, on public property, at the funeral of a Marine. Snyder, 131 S. Ct. at 1213-14, 1220-21. For another time the Court did no more than refer to the long-recognized First Amendment principles. And while it restated the special status of public streets as the “epitome of a customary public meeting,” it ensued to confirm that even public settings are subject to reasonable time-place-manner regulations. It is particularly telling that, in making this point, the Court referred explicitly to the abortion clinic buffer zone that it had upheld in Madsen. The plaintiffs’ dependence on Sorrell is similarly mislaid.

The Sorrell Court overturned a Vermont law that regulated the sale, expose, and use of pharmacy records for marketing purposes. Sorrell, 131 S. Ct. at 2659. The law by fact was content-based and speaker-based, and had been endorsed with the avowed purpose of “diminishing the efficiency of marketing by manufacturers of brand-name drugs.” It is the courts holding that the Massachusetts law is one viewpoint neutral and that it does not discriminate on the basis of content. It treats the Massachusetts law like it bans all manner of speech within the stipulated buffer zones. While this law would be content neutral on its face, there are situations in which the law prohibiting all speech at a particular location would not be content neutral in fact. Suppose, for instance, that a facially content-neutral law is enacted for the purpose of suppressing speech on a particular topic. Such a law would not be content neutral. The bottom line is that, to be cognizable, a claim of uneven enforcement requires state action.

The First Amendment is concerned with government interference, not private jousting in the speech marketplace. In this case, I don’t think it was possible to reach a ruling about the intentions of the Massachusetts Legislature without taking into account the fact that the law that the legislature enacted deliberately discriminates on the basis of a viewpoint. In light of this proposition, as well as the over breadth that the Court recognizes, it cannot be said, based on the current record, that the law would be content impartial even if the exemption for clinic employees and agents were excised. However, if the law were truly content neutral, I would agree with the Court that the law would still be unconstitutional on the ground that it burdens more speech than is necessary to serve the Commonwealth’s asserted interests. References Bellotti v. Baird, 428 U.S. 132, 96 S. Ct. 2857, 49 L. Ed. 2d 844 (1976). Citizens United v. Federal Election Com’n, 130 S. Ct. 876, 558 U.S. 310, 175 L. Ed. 2d 753 (2010). First Nat. Bank of Boston v. Bellotti, 435 U.S. 765, 98 S. Ct. 1407, 55 L. Ed. 2d 707 (1978). Lessig, L. (2000). Copyright’s First Amendment. UCLA L. Rev., 48, 1057. McCullen v. Coakley, 571 F.3d 167 (1st Cir. 2009). Merkle, S. E. (2009). Snyder v. Phelps. SCL Rev., 61, 657. Mass.

Gen. Laws, Ch. 266, 120E½ (a), (b) (West 2012). Snyder v. Phelps, 131 S. Ct. 1207, 562 U.S. 09, 179 L. Ed. 2d 172 (2011).

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McCullen v Coakley. (2017, Jun 26). Retrieved July 13, 2024 , from

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