Today, the Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal of an anti-abortion protestor who claimed his free speech was violated by the state of Colorado. By declining to hear the case, the Court allowed a lower court ruling barring certain types of anti-abortion protests in public areas to stand, which, on its surface, might sound like a good thing. But the truth's a little messier.
It's easy to cheer a legal move like today's when the plaintiff is as incredibly unsympathetic as Kenneth T. Scott, one of those knuckleheads fond of getting his Occupy Uterus message across through the use of shouting very loudly into bullhorns as though being pro-choice is simply a matter of not hearing the counterargument shouted loudly enough (OH, I'm sorry, I originally wanted to determine what happens inside my own skin but now that I hear STAY PREGNANT YELLSCREAMED loudly enough I AM COMPELLED TO AGREE WITH YOUR POSITION SIR). In addition to the ALL CAPS TALKING, Scott's fond of displaying graphic dead baby posters that have ruined otherwise carefree, fun, guilt-free jaunts to the abortion clinic for so many of us.
Secondly, the incident that prompted Colorado to make a law specifically addressing Scott's shenanigans sounds pretty gross. It happened back in 2005, when parishonors at Denver Catholic church celebrating Palm Sunday services proceeded outside for a reenactment of the Stations of the Cross. There, rather than peace and religious reflection at the beginning of Holy Week, they found Mr. Scott on public land near the church grounds, graphic fetus posters held aloft, "screaming" into a bullhorn like a banshee. About 200 children were present, many of whom were upset by the graphic images.
According to the Times, after the church sued Scott, a Colorado court issued an order specifically barring Scott and his merry band of hollerers from "displaying large posters or similar displays depicting gruesome images of mutilated fetuses or dead bodies in a manner reasonably likely to be viewed by children under 12." Scott appealed, and the issue made it all the way to the Supreme Court, where today the Court was all, ugh, we just can't with this, and refused to hear the case. Which means the original order stands. Which means Scott just got told to sit the fuck down.
While those of us fond of pro-life schadenfreude might applaud this move (or lack thereof) by the Court, many of Scott's allies were hippie dippy left wing First Amendment Rights supporters. If the Court had ruled against Scott, they could have opened up a whole new can of worms. For example: if it's okay for a court to issue an order specifically limiting one person or group's free speech due to the fact that it bothers kids, then what other speech can the presence of children limit? Should the presence of children with their sticky hands and weird old milk smell and malleable minds limit the ways in which adults exercise their right to free speech?
Of course, the 800 lb gorilla fetus in the room here is that the pictures that Scott was likely using aren't pictures of typical abortions at all, but rather of late term fetuses removed from their mothers due to medical emergencies. And, to add another layer to this whole fustercluck, a ruling by the Colorado Court of Appeals pointed out that the same court order that barred Scott from waving bloody baby pictures around outside of Palm Sunday services could be used to bar children from attending the very church services they were attending, as the Passion Play typically contains reenactments of a bloody crucified Jesus. Oh, irony. You're my only friend.