Supreme Court: Obama violated the Constitution, abortion clinic buffers illegal

By KTTH | June 26, 2014
Eleanor McCullen, William Cotter

In this Dec. 17, 2013 photo, anti-abortion protester Eleanor McCullen, of Boston, left, stands at the painted edge of a buffer zone as she protests outside a Planned Parenthood location in Boston (AP). 

The U.S. Supreme Court dealt huge blows to leftist policies on Thursday in two separate unanimous rulings.

In one ruling, the court ruled unanimously that President Barack Obama violated the Constitution when, in 2012, he appointed federal officials to key positions without Senate approval.

In 2012, Obama violated the Constitution when he made appointments to the National Labor Relations Board and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in lieu of the Senate, which was holding sessions only every three days. Obama contended that the Senate was not really in session, and that it sought to thwart his appointments by not being in session.

A lawsuit over the issue came from a labor relations board case against a Yakima Pepsi distributor.

Justice Stephen Breyer wrote, “Because the Senate was in session during its pro forma sessions, the president made the recess appointments before us during a break too short to count as recess. For that reason, the appointments are invalid.”

The conservative side of the court, including Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Chief Justice John Roberts, wanted to restrict the president’s power to make recess appointments further.

The appointments to the NLRB made when Obama violated the Constitution are now invalid, and cases the board may need to revisit cases heard between 2012 and 2013. The Senate has since confirmed Obama’s appointed head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Richard Cordray, and so he will remain in that position.

The second major unanimous decision from the court dealt with abortion. The court struck down a Massachusetts commonwealth law setting a 35-foot speech buffer around abortion clinics. The justices said 35 feet was too much because it encroached on public sidewalks and other public spaces.

“Petitioners wish to converse with their fellow citizens about an important subject on the public streets and sidewalks – sites that have hosted discussions about the issues of the day throughout history,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the opinion.

A reproductive health clinic in Brookline, Mass., was the site of the worst violence against such a facility in U.S. history. In December 1994, John Salvi shot and killed two receptions and wounded five at two separate Planned Parenthood clinics. Witnesses at Salvi’s trial testified that, as he pumped 10 bullets into one receptionist, he shouted, “This is what you get! You should pray the rosary!”

After that shooting, a federal law went into place deeming that protestors could not harass or intimidate clinic patients. Massachusetts enacted its buffer law in 2007, partially as a result of the Salvi murders, in an effort to prevent violent, turbulent confrontations outside of clinics.

Host David Boze saw the ruling as easy, because the First Amendment clearly says there can’t be laws preventing free speech and peaceable assembly.

“The government of Massachusetts is saying this was an issue of pedestrian access and public safety. That really wasn’t it. You could see in the way the law was arranged it was broader than that,” Boze said.

Justice Antonin Scalia wrote, “speech-free zones carved out … add nothing to safety and access; what they achieve, and they were obviously designed to achieve, is the suppression of speech opposing abortion.”

The Supreme Court has upheld reproductive health clinic buffers. In 2000, it allowed Colorado to enforce an 8-foot buffer, because pro-life protestors were blocking clinic entrances.

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