Published On: Sat, Jan 21st, 2017

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu vows to fight against buffer zone laws and censorship zones

A controversial buffer zone law in New Hampshire upheld by federal appeals court last week now faces repeal by the state.

Alliance Defending Freedom launched its legal challenge against the buffer zone law two years ago, but is in a “wait and see” mode after this new ruling dismissing its latest appeal, says ADF allied lawyer Michael Tierney.

Republican Gov. Chris Sununu, who took office January 3, made a campaign promise in writing that he would sign a bill to repeal the buffer zone law, Tierney told Life Site News.

The repeal bill “will likely have a hearing before the House in January and before the Senate in February,” he added.

This will be the third year in a row New Hampshire’s legislators will debate a repeal of Senate Bill 319, signed into law by former Governor, Democrat Maggie Hassan, in 2014.

pro-life poster

The bill permits 25-foot “censorship zones”outside abortion facilities in which no person may speak, stand, or even enter on public ways and sidewalks.

ADF challenged the law on behalf of “seven wonderful named plaintiffs” who are “very brave individuals who are willing to be named plaintiffs in this suit and are willing to be out there on the sidewalk because it saves lives,” Tierney.

The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston on January 11 upheld a March 2016 district court decision throwing out the challenge because the plaintiffs had no jurisdiction.

The appeal court decided that the plaintiffs did not have standing for two reasons, Tierney said. “One is the private abortion clinics had not yet exercised the power that was delegated to them.”

The ADF won a court-ordered stay of Bill 319 in July 2014, which remained in effect until August 2015, Tierney said.

Moreover, “the state of New Hampshire had obtained the promise from all private clinics that they would not post any buffer zones while the case was still pending.”

So the Circuit Court’s contention that the pro-life plaintiffs had no standing because no abortion facility has created a buffer zone was a circuitous argument, he noted.

“An unconstitutional law shouldn’t remain on the books just because abortionists haven’t taken advantage of the power the law gives them to silence speech,” Tierney observed.

The three Circuit Court judges “made no determination as to whether the New Hampshire statute would pass constitutional muster. Instead, the court left the law in place without further scrutiny unless and until an abortion business wields it.”

The abortion facilities’ “promise to the state is not something that I can necessarily rely on,” Tierney noted. “We will keep looking at our legal options.”

The Circuit Court also ruled that the plaintiffs “did not allege that they changed their behavior based on the threat of the abortion clinics having the power” to create a buffer zone, Tierney said.

The plaintiffs in Reddy v. Foster said they “were going to be out there no matter what,” Tierney said, but noted that “there are other people in the state of New Hampshire who have been intimidated by the abortuaries from being out on the sidewalk.”

The abortion facilities “even submitted an affidavit saying in their words that the sidewalk counselors were ‘on their best behavior’ because of a threat of created a buffer zone,” he added.

The ADF’s New Hampshire challenge was based on its successful 2008 challenge to a Massachusetts buffer zone law, McCullen v. Coakley, in which the U.S. Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional.

The Massachusetts law mandated buffer zones, whereas the New Hampshire law leaves it up to the abortion facilities to declare and enforce them.




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- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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