Judge Denies Effort To Block Colo. Abortion Protester
February 1, 2012 by staff
Judge Denies Effort To Block Colo. Abortion Protester, A judge Thursday denied the federal government’s request to keep a longtime anti-abortion protester from being able to stop cars and talk to drivers as they enter Denver’s Planned Parenthood center.
U.S. District Judge Philip Brimmer rejected the Justice Department’s argument that Kenneth Scott’s actions make it “unreasonably difficult” for patients and employees to get to the clinic.
“Great news,” one of Scott’s lawyers, Peter Breen, said of Brimmer’s late-evening ruling.
Washington, D.C.-based attorney Gayle Winsome argued during a hearing earlier Thursday that a 1994 law protecting access to abortion clinics requires that Scott be at least 25 feet away from the entrance, in this case a driveway leading to the clinic.
Winsome said Scott would still be able to express his views at a distance without impeding traffic and without visitors having to worry about hitting Scott.
“This case is not about freedom of expression,” Gayle argued in court. A spokeswoman with the Justice Department’s civil rights division did not return a phone call seeking comment about Brimmer’s decision.
Breen argued that Scott is a peaceful protester with a constitutional right to speak from public areas leading up to the property line of the Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains center.
Breen, of the Thomas More Society, said the government lawsuit against Scott is an overreach under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, passed in the wake of clinic sit-ins and a 1993 shooting that wounded Kansas abortion provider George Tiller. He was shot again and killed in 2009 at his Wichita church.
“Everything that Mr. Scott is accused of doing is protected by the First Amendment,” Breen said.
The FACE act went mostly unused under George W. Bush, but the Obama administration has taken a harder line against anti-abortion activists. Lawsuits have been filed against a Texas man who threw his body across the door of a patient waiting area in San Antonio and a Pennsylvania man who posted online the names and addresses of abortion providers and urged people to kill them.
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