The freedom of speech, although a predominant First Amendment principle, does not create an absolute right and remains subject to limitations for appropriate reasons, such as when the exercise of free speech encroaches upon the rights of others. Particularly sensitive situations arise when courts impose restrictions upon anti-abortion protestors in an attempt to protect the rights of patients and providers at abortion clinics. Indeed, despite a woman's long established right to obtain an abortion, emotionally charged demonstrations and recurrent anti-choice violence persist outside abortion clinics around the nation. Given that such practices induce stress and other health risks to women seeking an abortion, courts have issued injunctions which place restrictions, such as buffer zones, on anti-choice activity. Most recently, in Schenck v. Pro-Choice Network, the Supreme Court clarified the constitutionality of such restrictions and upheld a "fixed" fifteen-foot buffer zone and cease-and-desist order, but struck down a "floating" fifteen-foot buffer zone.
Amy E. Miller,
The Collapse and Fall of Floating Buffer Zones: The Court Clarifies Analysis for Reviewing Speech-Restrictive Injunctions in Schenk v. Pro-Choice Network,
U. Rich. L. Rev.
Available at: http://scholarship.richmond.edu/lawreview/vol32/iss1/7