In Thursday’s other decision, McCullen v. Coakley, all nine justices concluded that Massachusetts’ abortion clinic 35-foot buffer zone law violated the First Amendment. So here we have yet another opinion unanimous in the judgment. That makes 48 out of 71 decisions thus far this term, or 67.6 percent.
Writing for the court, Chief Justice John Roberts concludes that the statute was content-neutral, and thus avoids strict scrutiny, but is not narrowly tailored because it burdens more speech than is necessary to advance the government’s interests in ensuring clinic access and public safety. Four justices — Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Anthony Kennedy and Samuel Alito — concurred in the judgment, but would have gone further. The opinion is here. Eugene has more here.