Schenck v. Pro-Choice Network of Western New York

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Schenck v. Pro-Choice Network of Western New York
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg
Argued October 16, 1996
Decided February 19, 1997
Full case name Paul Schenck and Dwight Saunders, Petitioners
v.
Pro-Choice Network of Western New York, et al.
Citations 519 U.S. 357 (more)
117 S. Ct. 855
Holding
The injunction provisions imposing "fixed buffer zone" limitations are constitutional, but the provisions imposing "floating buffer zone" limitations violate the First Amendment.
Court membership
Case opinions
Majority Rehnquist, joined by unanimous court
Concur/dissent Scalia, joined by Kennedy, Thomas
Concur/dissent Breyer

Schenck v. Pro-Choice Network of Western New York, 519 U.S. 357 (1997), was a case heard before the United States Supreme Court related to legal protection of access to abortion. It ruled in an 8-1 decision that "floating buffer zones" preventing protesters approaching people entering or leaving abortion clinics were unconstitutional, though "fixed buffer zones" around the clinics themselves remained constitutional. The Court's upholding the fixed buffer was the most important aspect of the ruling, because it was a common feature of injunctions nationwide.[1]

Paul Schenck challenged a Federal District Court injunction that restricted "sidewalk counselors" from approaching abortion clinic patients and others with Bibles, tracts and pro-life messages. Because these protesters often violently harassed and intimidated patients and staff or prevented them from entering the clinic, the Court upheld the fixed buffer zone around the clinics, although it struck down the floating buffer zone around individuals because its indefinite and movable nature made it difficult to administer and risked overly restricting free speech.[1]

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Further reading[edit]

  • Hostetler, Darrin Alan (1997). "Face-to-Face with the First Amendment: Schenck v. Pro-Choice Network and the Right to ‘Approach and Offer’ in Abortion Clinic Protests". Stanford Law Review (Stanford Law Review, Vol. 50, No. 1) 50 (1): 179–223. doi:10.2307/1229361. JSTOR 1229361. 

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