Several nights ago, I found myself arguing with a hyperpriviledged, self-identified anarcho-socialist (don’t ask me how that works) about the MSA 11. He and his friends believed them to have been convicted by a racist Orange County jury, under unconstitutional laws.
As we were discussing the constitutionality of political “speech” that made it physically impossible for others to exercise their 1st Amendment rights, an inconsistency occurred to me: It is federal crime for protesters to interfere with the provision of abortions, and the legal hook is that abortion is a federally-protected right.
I suspect that many who defend the MSA 11 are also very supportive of the Free Access To Clinic Entrances (FACE) act, which reads:
This statute prohibits (1) the use of force or threat of force or physical obstruction, to intentionally injure, intimidate or interfere with or attempt to injure, intimidate or interfere with any person or any class of persons from obtaining or providing reproductive health services;
Surely, systematically disrupting, interrupting, and shouting down a speaker is a form of physical obstruction analogous to blocking the entrances of abortion clinics. I guess that despite only being read into the constitution by a chain of precedents that sounds like a game of telephone, abortion is a more important right to some than the first Amendment, the bedrock rights without which the rest cannot function.
(Addendum: I do believe that blocking roads, trespassing, or otherwise illegally and unreasonably interfering with other individuals performing legal actions should be treated as a crime regardless of the cause of the protesters. Either follow the rule of law or perform real civil disobedience – the kind with consequences.)
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