What’s the big deal?

As always, imagine if the situation was reversed and you’ll begin to understand what kid-glove treatment anti-abortion activists can expect:

For anti-choicers, the right to freedom of speech is like a game of Calvin-ball, the “Calvin and Hobbes” comic strip “sport” in which all rules could be revised, changed, updated, and discarded depending on what it took to win. They claim that freedom of speech trumps literally every other right, as long as it is done under the guise of “saving babies.”

It’s “freedom of speech,” for example, to “inconvenience” Planned Parenthood of Greater Orlando CEO Jenna Tosh by picketing her home. Tosh told the WinterPark, Florida, city council that she felt “threatened and ambushed” when anti-choicers picketed her home, and the council passed a short-term ordinance forbidding assembly on a residential property. But opponents say that it was the wrong decision. After all, it was just one woman being intimidated. In an op-ed written by the Florida Sentinel, the paper argues:

Winter Park modeled its measure after ordinances that already had passed constitutional muster, so we aren’t arguing legal merits. But we do question the knee-jerk response to a single citizen’s complaint—precipitated by the distribution of pro-life handouts and, nearly a week later, some nonviolent picketing. And we question the need for a new law when laws exist to protect citizens against protests that grow unruly. And we question why government officials are so quick to crack down on freedom of speech. Imagine the outcry if commissioners had tried to go after the Second Amendment. Having to push past protesters toting signs that read “Jenna Tosh kills babies and hurts women” certainly is unpleasant. We sympathize with her. However, her need to avoid disturbing, anti-abortion expressions outside her home shouldn’t trump the rights of the many to exercise their First Amendment rights within public areas in residential areas.

Is it merely “unpleasant” to have people picket your neighborhood in a group, using your name and calling you a baby-killer? Does making someone feel unsafe in her own home not matter if it somehow infringes on the right of a group to make that person feel intimidated? And where exactly do “free speech” advocates draw the line for what constitutes “unruly?”

In fact, in some cases it seems as though courts are bending over backwards to ignore the physical intimidation involved in many of the anti-choice protesters’ activities. In a recent FACE act case involving an anti-choice activist at EMW Women’s Surgical Center in Louisville, the judge decided that touching an escort is just another way of expressing “freedom of speech.”

“In his attempt to continue talking to the patient, [anti-choice “sidewalk counselor” David Hamilton ‘pushed [clinic escort Jane Fitts’s] arm down slightly,’” [U.S. District Judge Jennifer B. Coffman] found.
Continue Reading →

Cuomo backs off on fracking

Thank heavens for presidential ambitions, huh?

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced today that his administration is pushing the controversial decision on whether to allow fracking in the state back to square one. This encouraging move by Gov. Cuomo is sure to upset the oil industry, but it was the right thing to do given the enormous uncertainties surrounding fracking and unconventional energy development.


The threats of water contamination, air pollution, climate-altering methane pollution and public health impacts posed enormous challenges for Gov. Cuomo, whom many see poised to make a run for the White House in 2016.


Had he rushed through approval of fracking, his political base – including tens of thousands of state residents vocally opposed to fracking – would likely question his ability to navigate even larger controversies and pressure from industry lobbyists.
Desmogblog (http://s.tt/1oQgn)

Oops!

If there was one Supreme Court judge you wouldn’t want to praise in liberal Massachusetts while you’re running for reelection, Tony “The Fixer” Scalia would probably be the one. That’s the thing about debates: Sometimes people really do snap under the pressure and say some dumb things, and Scott Brown just proved it in last night’s debate:

Massachusetts Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren covered her face as the crowd booed her challenger, Republican Scott Brown. Brown had just hailed Justice Antonin Scalia as his “model” Supreme Court justice, and Warren was already using the opportunity to pounce.


During a contentious second Massachusetts Senate debate, Brown went through a wild swing of opinions when moderator David Gregory asked him his “model” justice.


“Let me see, here. That’s a great question,” Brown said. “I think Justice Scalia is a very good judge.”


The crowd at the debate immediately booed, and Warren began to cover up her face, perhaps realizing her challenger’s mistake.That Brown’s first answer was Scalia was shocking, because Scalia is widely considered among the top two most conservative justices on the bench.


Brown, meanwhile, has become popular in Democratic-heavy Massachusetts by becoming a largely Independent member of Congress.


Brown fumbled for words and quickly threw out almost every single justice currently on the bench.


“Justice Kennedy is obviously very good, and Justice Roberts, Justice Sotomayor, they’re all very qualified people there,” Brown said.


Warren shook her head, noting that Brown had just endorsed Sotomayor, who some see as the most liberal member of the bench.


In a follow-up, Gregory pointed out that Scalia and Sotomayor have very different viewpoints on the bench. “That’s the beauty of being an independent, David,” Brown said.


“If you had to pick one?” Gregory said.“I don’t need to pick one,” Brown said. “We have plenty of justices up there, and I’m proud of the ones we have.”

Site Meter