A federal judge has temporarily blocked enforcement of a New Hampshire law that would have barred demonstrations of any kind within a zone extending up to 25 feet from abortion facilities. The law had been scheduled to go into effect today. The ruling in Reddy v. Foster came in response to a lawsuit filed this week by seven pro-life sidewalk counselors claiming that the “buffer zone” law is unconstitutional. New Hampshire’s law was modeled on the Massachusetts buffer zone statute recently struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in McCullen v. Coakley.
A regularly-scheduled weekly pro-life witness outside Planned Parenthood’s Manchester office went on today without incident. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England issued a statement saying in part, “We continue to evaluate the Supreme Court ruling … Planned Parenthood’s No. 1 priority remains the the safety and privacy of our patients and staff.”
In his order signed July 9, U.S. District Judge Joseph N. Laplante scheduled a preliminary injunction hearing for July 25 in Concord. Laplante’s order noted that nine of the eleven defendants to the lawsuits agreed informally not to enforce the buffer zone law pending a hearing. He issued a temporary restraining order to the city of Concord and town of Derry, after noting that representatives of those two defendants “were unable to agree to refrain from enforcing Senate Bill 319 for the time being.”
In granting the restraining order and scheduling the hearing, Judge Laplante wrote, “Notably, although the Attorney General has submitted an objection to the plaintiffs’ motion, that objection makes no attempt to argue that the New Hampshire act differs from the Massachusetts law in such a way that the plaintiffs are unlikely to succeed in this action.”
The plaintiffs are represented by attorneys and allied attorneys from Alliance Defending Freedom, including Manchester attorney Michael Tierney.
Related post on Caffeinated Thoughts: Lawsuit filed against NH “buffer zone”
From Leaven for the Loaf: Guide to the NH buffer zone suit