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Docket No.: 12-1168
Certiorari Granted: Jun 24 2013
Argued: January 15, 2014


First Amendment, murder

PartyNames: Eleanor McCullen, et al. v. Martha Coakley, Attorney General of Massachusetts, et al.
Petitioner: Eleanor McCullen, et al.
Respondent: Martha Coakley, Attorney General of Massachusetts, et al.

Court Below: United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
Citation: 708 F.3D 1
Supreme Court Docket

Eleanor McCullen, et al.
Martha Coakley, Attorney General of Massachusetts, et al.

Massachusetts has made it a crime for speakers to "enter or remain on a public way or sidewalk" within 35 feet of an entrance, exit, or driveway of "a reproductive health care facility." The law applies only at abortion clinics. The law also exempts, among others, clinic "employees or agents ... acting within the scope of their employment." In effect, the law restricts the speech of only those who wish to use public areas near abortion clinics to speak about abortion from a different point of view. Petitioners are individuals who believe that women often have abortions because they feel pressured, alone, unloved, and out of options. Petitioners try to position themselves near clinics in an attempt to reach this unique audience, at a unique moment, to offer support, information, and practical assistance. They are peaceful, non-confrontational, and do not obstruct access. Yet, the State prohibits them from entering or standing on large portions of the public sidewalk to proffer leaflets or seek to begin conversations with willing listeners.

Question Presented:

1. Whether the First Circuit erred in upholding Massachusetts' selective exclusion law under the First and Fourteenth Amendments, on its face and as applied to petitioners. 2. If Hill v. Colorado, 530 U.S. 703 (2000), permits enforcement of this law, whether Hill should be limited or overruled.


January 15, 2014

Listen to Oral Argument in McCULLEN v. COAKLEY

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Case Documents

1McCULLEN v. COAKLEY Oral Argument Transcript (PDF)
2McCULLEN v. COAKLEY Oral Argument Audio