Court Hears Cases on Abortion Clinic Buffer Zones, Recess Appointments

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments yesterday in a case challenging the Massachusetts law that created buffer zones prohibiting protestors from standing within 35 feet from the entrance of an abortion clinic. Protestors sued over the limits on their activities at Planned Parenthood health centers in Boston, Springfield and Worcester, claiming the law is an unconstitutional infringement on free speech. According to the Washington Post, predicting outcomes is difficult because Chief Justice John G. Roberts, who probably is key to the court’s ultimate decision, kept his own counsel. Normally an active participant in the court’s major cases, the justice did not pose a single question to the three lawyers who argued the case.

This week, the high court also refereed the dispute between President Barack Obama and Senate Republicans over the president’s power to temporarily fill high-level positions without Senate approval — a practice that has accelerated in recent years due to partisan gridlock in Congress. The Supreme Court appeared on Monday to lean toward Congress in the fight over presidential recess appointments, politicalticker notes. A ruling by the court against the Obama administration could invalidate hundreds of decisions by the National Labor Relations Board — the federal agency at the center of this legal storm.