Bray v. Alexandria Women's Health Clinic

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Bray v. Alexandria Women's Health Clinic
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg
Argued October 16, 1991
Reargued October 6, 1992
Decided January 13, 1993
Full case name Jayne Bray, et al., Petitioners v. Alexandria Women's Health Clinic, et al.
Citations 506 U.S. 263 (more)
113 S. Ct. 753; 122 L. Ed. 2d 34; 1993 U.S. LEXIS 833; 61 U.S.L.W. 4080; 93 Cal. Daily Op. Service 258; 93 Daily Journal DAR 583
The first clause of 1985(3) does not provide a federal cause of action against persons obstructing access to abortion clinics.
Court membership
Case opinions
Majority Scalia, joined by Rehnquist, White, Kennedy, Thomas
Concurrence Kennedy
Concur/dissent Souter
Dissent Stevens, joined by Blackmun
Dissent O'Connor, joined by Blackmun

Bray v. Alexandria Women's Health Clinic was a United States Court Case in which the District Court affirmed in favor of the Health clinic. However, when the case reached the Supreme Court, it was ruled in favor of the Health Clinic by 5-4 that the Ku Klux Klan Act had not violated section 1985(3). Several abortion clinics (most known was the Alexandria Health Clinic) sued to prevent Jayne Bray and other anti-abortion protesters from voicing their freedom of speech in front of the clinics in Washington D.C.[1]

Alexandria Women’s Health Clinic reported that the protesters violated 42 U.S.C. 1985(3), which prohibits protests to deprive “any person or class of persons of the equal protection of the laws, or of equal privileges and immunities under the laws.”[2]

District Court Ruling[edit]

The protesters were present to deny women their right to abortion and their right to interstate travel that Alexandria Health Clinic argued. The District Court found this case to be in favor of the Alexandria Women’s health Clinic because they said protesters had sought out to reject women’s right to abortion. After revisiting the case, the Supreme Court came to a unanimous decision, stating that Bray and others, blocked access to the clinics, therefore depriving women seeking abortions the right to interstate travel. The District Court also ruled on state law trespassing and public nuisance claims, ordering the offenders to stop trespassing on or obstructing access to clinics. Finally, the District Court ordered the protesters to pay the clinics’ attorney’s fees and costs on the 1985(3) claim.[3]

Supreme Court Ruling[edit]

However, when the case was reviewed by the Supreme Court they ruled in favor of Bray and others. Their argument was that they hadn’t violated any of section 1985(3) by obstructing access to abortion clinics. They wrote that “there must be a class-based, invidiously discriminatory animus [underlying] the conspirators’ action” for them to violate that law. The clinics’ claim that protestors created discriminatory animus toward women but the court viewed the situation as them protecting victims of abortion. And since abortion can’t reasonably be viewed as gender-based discrimination there was no argument in the Supreme Courts eyes. Supreme Court Justice Scalia pointed out that interstate travel hadn’t been violated because the protest were carried out within the District of Columbia and were not directed towards interstate travelers.[4]


  1. ^ Colman McCarthy. "Scalia Outreasons Stevens in Bray Case: METRO Edition." Star Tribune: 14.A. 1993. Print.
  2. ^ United States. Congress. Senate. Committee on Labor and Human Resources. The Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act of 1993 : Hearing before the Committee on Labor and Human Resources, United States Senate, One Hundred Third Congress, First Session, on S. 636 ... may 12, 1993. United States:, 1993. Print.
  3. ^ llen Uzelac. "Md. Couple in Supreme Court Clinic-Blocking Case to Go on Fighting Abortion: FINAL Edition." The Sun: 3.A. 1991. Print.
  4. ^ Colman McCarthy. "Scalia Outreasons Stevens in Bray Case: METRO Edition." Star Tribune: 14.A. 1993. Print.