PLW: City of Madison Will Not Enforce Buffer Zone Ordinance

In an email memo sent yesterday to Madison Mayor Paul Soglin and members of the Madison Common Council, City Attorney Michael May questioned the constitutionality of the City's recently enacted buffer zone ordinance and announced that the City of Madison and Madison Police Chief Mike Koval will not enforce it. May's decision follows last Thursday's U.S. Supreme Court decision in McCullen v. Coakley striking down a Massachusetts law requiring pro-life witnesses and sidewalk counselors in the public way to remain 35 feet from the entrance to an abortion clinic.

May writes in the email that "the reasoning of the Supreme Court raises significant concerns, in my opinion, about the continued validity of the Madison ordinance. Because of those concerns, the City will not, as of the date of the McCullen decision, enforce the provisions of [the ordinance] that contain the buffer zone restrictions. Police Chief Koval concurs in this determination."

"With the City of Madison backing off enforcement, it's becoming increasingly clear their buffer zone ordinance is unconstitutional," said Matt Sande, Pro-Life Wisconsin's Legislative Director. "In January Pro-Life Wisconsin cautioned the Common Council to slow down and refrain from enacting any buffer zone restriction in light of the pending McCullen decision. They didn't listen, and the United States Supreme Court has now spoken, saying that buffer zones attack free speech rights in the public way. The City of Madison must act quickly to repeal this offensive ordinance before they lose in court, face substantial attorneys' fees, and suffer a complete loss of confidence in their ability to uphold basic civil liberties."
continue at PLW


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