How Is Standing In A Driveway Not Impeding Access?

If someone stood in your driveway and wouldn’t let you home until you talked to him, that would be harassment.  If someone stood in the driveway of a business and wouldn’t let customers in until they took a pamphlet, that would be loitering.  If someone stood in the driveway of a church and wouldn’t let parishioners in until they let him explain why there is no God, that would be national news and a total uproar would ensue.

But if someone stands in the driveway of a reproductive health clinic, forcing drivers to take a leaflet and talk to him about the evils of abortion before they can park, well, that’s just him expressing his first amendment rights, right?

Via the Miami Herald:

The federal government is trying to prevent a longtime anti-abortion protester from being able to stop cars and talk to drivers as they enter Denver’s Planned Parenthood center, arguing that he’s making it “unreasonably difficult” for patients and employees to get to the clinic.

U.S. Justice Department lawyer Gayle Winsome told U.S. District Judge Philip Brimmer on Thursday that Kenneth Scott sometimes stands in the only driveway leading to the center’s to talk to drivers and distribute pamphlets, forcing drivers stopped behind them to wait before they can enter. She said that violates a 1994 law protecting access to abortion clinics and urged Brimmer to order Scott to keep at least 25 feet away from the entrance. She said he can still express his views from there without impeding traffic and without visitors having to worry about hitting Scott.

“This case is not about freedom of expression,” Gayle said.

Scott’s lawyers argue that Scott is a peaceful protester with a constitutional right to speak from public areas leading up to the property line of the Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains center.

Peter Breen of the Thomas More Society, one of Scott’s lawyers, said the government lawsuit against Scott is an overreach under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, passed in the wake of clinic sit-ins and a 1993 shooting that wounded Kansas abortion provider George Tiller. He was shot again and killed in 2009 at his Wichita church.

“Everything that Mr. Scott is accused of doing is protected by the First Amendment,” Breen said.

Read more here:

Remember, freedom of speech trumps absolutely every other right and law.  At least, when it’s a reproductive health clinic involved.

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  • crowepps

    I had an experience many years ago where I was driving down a country road at 55 miles an hour and someone came running out of a side road waving their arms and signaling me to stop.  Assuming there was some kind of emergency, I slammed on my brakes and came to a halt.  He climbed in the car and said, ‘Man, I thought it would take me longer to get a ride.’  He took advantage of the unwritten rule in Alaska that even women will stop for emergencies, and I was furious, because his hitchhiking was NOT an emergency.  That happened over 30 years ago, and it still makes me angry remembering. 

    Drivers mutually use the roads and vehicular spaces in a pattern of cooperation with unwritten rules, and one of those is that someone waving you down is assumed to be doing so for traffic reasons, or to prevent your vehicle from making a snarl ahead of you worse, or to advise you helpfully that all the parking spots are full.  For someone to do this is not only dangerous at the time, since someone who is distracted might simply run him over, but encourages drivers to be more cynical in the future and less likely to cooperate.

    Certainly this person has every right to speak.  He absolutely has no right  to assume a mantle of authority/helpfulness and stop cars before he does so.

  • colleen

    Note how differently the authorities deal with the far right. If this had been an Occupy protester standing outside a BofA branch distributing literature he/she would be summarily pepper sprayed and arrested. The ‘pro-life’ movement has been prone to violent criminal acts for 30 years and yet they’re treated with deference despite the fact that they clearly break the law all the time.

  • julie-watkins

    In this case, having pro-life Thomas More Society ready to pay for your lawyer, maybe he can get a “protest exception” into case law? I’m sure that’s the intent. Would that mean than Occupy Bank of America protestors will be able to use the same justifications? pfft.

  • wholearmor

    The only way a person can stop a car is by actually having their foot on the brake pedal and pressing on it, or by someone outside the car intentionally jumping in front of it, which is obviously illegal.  Otherwise, if a car stops, it’s because the driver used their own free will to do so.  At Planned Parenthood in Denver, the vast majority of people do not stop to talk or take the literature offered to them.  They drive right on by.  The ones who do stop, do so of their own free will (choice), and are only there for less than a minute most of the time.  If they decide (choose) to stay and talk, then that’s their choice.  If someone happens to be waiting in a car behind them, they don’t have a very long wait most of the time.  And the person who stopped to talk has the choice to either drive on in and park, or drive on in, turn around, and leave. Y’all are about choice.  That’s what the drivers going into Denver’s Planned Parenthood have. Choice.  Jumping in front of a car to impede it is against the law and the person doing so would be subject to arrest. That simply does not happen at Denver’s Planned Parenthood.  Everyone who wants to go in and kill their kid is able to do so.  And by the way, there is not a driveway in the picture you have posted.  That is taken at the south end of the building.  The main entrance is on Pontiac street on the west side of the building.

  • jennifer-starr

    I’ve read the news reports on this, and from what I hear it’s not actually just one man, but his wife gets into the act as well. And given that this couple seems to pride themselves on being confrontational, I doubt they’re just ‘standing peacefully to one side’.  Even if they don’t actually step in front of the cars (though according to the complaint they often do) , I’d be willing to bet that they stand close enough so that the driver slows down just to be on the safe side and that’s when they appear beside  your window.  If it was any other business, such behavior wouldn’t be tolerated and it shouldn’t be tolerated here.