For your weekend reading, here is Sen. Sharon Carson’s column in the Union Leader regarding yesterday’s Supreme Court decision striking down buffer zones.
NH avoids Unconstitutional Buffer Zones
By Sen. Sharon Carson
It’s not often that a new law is wiped away before it even goes into effect. But the U.S. Supreme Court helped New Hampshire achieve this dubious honor this week with its unanimous decision in McMullen v Coakley.
The McMullen decision declares that states can’t unilaterally restrict the rights of law-abiding citizens to speak on a public sidewalk. Massachusetts had imposed buffer zones around the state’s abortion clinics to prevent counselors from speaking to patients entering these facilities. Supporters argued that the restrictions were necessary in order to ensure safe access to and from the clinics. But the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the government cannot go further than absolutely necessary when curtailing speech.
In writing for the rest of his colleagues, Chief Justice John Roberts defended the long held right of Americans to speak about controversial topics on public sidewalks.
“Petitioners wish to converse with their fellow citizens about an important subject on the public streets and sidewalks-- sites that have hosted discussions about the issues of the day throughout history.”
Supporters of the buffer zone law want to shield young women seeking abortions not only from public protest, but from counselors seeking to provide comfort and support.
The Court struck down the Massachusetts buffer zones in large part because the law imposed blanket restrictions on public speech as a way to address crowd control issues at a single clinic in Boston. But as Roberts notes, “Any such obstruction can readily be addressed through existing local ordinances.”
As I noted on the Senate floor during debate over New Hampshire’s nearly identical buffer zone law, there are better ways to address the crowd control issues at a single abortion clinic in Manchester than by limiting speech at all such clinics.
In Massachusetts, the Court found “the zones thereby compromise petitioners’ ability to initiate the close, personal conversations that they view as essential to ‘sidewalk counseling.’” The same is true in New Hampshire.
So why did Governor Hassan rush to sign an unconstitutional breach of the First Amendment into New Hampshire law. We tried to warn her that it would not survive the summer. In fact, the Court’s imminent decision seems to have rushed the Governor into signing the bill.
Given the McMullen decision, New Hampshire’s buffer zone law is null and void. The Legislature can’t officially repeal it until next year, but there is no way the Attorney General’s Office or local police departments should waste resources attempting to enforce an unconstitutional statute.
New Hampshire should protect access to health care facilities and public safety. Thankfully, there have been no such issues at the clinic in Manchester. The city’s police department has done a fine job ensuring that no one is blocked from entering or leaving the facility, and that traffic flows safely through the neighborhood. Should existing laws ever prove inadequate to serving these needs, the Legislature should find a solution narrowly crafted to preserve access and safety that does not “burden substantially more speech than is necessary to further the government’s legitimate interests.”
Abortion is a controversial issue. Our beliefs are personal and deeply held. Anything touching on this subject becomes polarized. But this week’s unanimous Supreme Court decision should convince us that the unconstitutional buffer zone law has nothing to do with abortion. Rather, “it imposes an especially significant First Amendment burden.”
Going forward, I hope that we can all agree, much like the liberal and conservative Justices on the U.S. Supreme Court, on the right of all Americans to speak freely on public sidewalks.
Senator Sharon Carson (R-Londonderry) chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Union Leader’s Drew Cline:
“Dan Innis Is No Political Lightweight”
Dan discussing his campaign with Union Leader Publisher Joe McQuaid & Editorial Page Editor Drew Cline
Manchester, NH -- The following column by Drew Cline, editorial page editor of the Union Leader newspaper, appeared in the Union Leader on June 26th.
Dan Innis Is No Political Lightweight
By Drew Cline
As dean of the business school at the University of New Hampshire, Dan Innis raised tens of millions of dollars — including $25 million from alumnus Peter T. Paul, after whom the school is now named — for a new building. Some people did not think it could be done, but Innis led the campaign that achieved the largest gift in UNH history. Doing the same thing for his congressional campaign has proved, well, tricky.
Innis, a business owner (formerly of the Ale House Inn, now of Hotel Portsmouth) and professor of marketing, is finding that selling one’s self to voters is not the same as selling a service to customers. As of the end of March, when the most recent Federal Election Commission filings end, Innis had raised $167,000, less than half of what his primary rival, former U.S. Rep. Frank Guinta, had raised, and a fraction of U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter’s $736,000.
Paul, who gave the $25 million to the UNH school of business when Innis was dean, is funding a super PAC that backs Innis, and it already has produced and aired one Innis TV ad, something Innis does not have the money for.
Innis’ comparatively low level of fundraising reflects neither the candidate’s energy level, which is high, nor his comfort with asking for money. It more likely reflects his status as a little-known Republican who has few contacts within the party or the broader conservative movement in New Hampshire.
Innis, a strategic thinker, understands his challenge."I haven't been active in the party", he concedes. When you’re a dean at a state-funded business school, you can’t be that active. But he calls himself a “free-market conservative,” and he has a plan for winning the primary despite being less well-known than Guinta. Asked to sum up his message in a quick slogan, he says: “New ideas, new solutions.”
In what appears to be shaping up as a wave Republican year, with the wave swelled by an anti-Washington, anti-establishment anger, Innis brings a message of reform. Washington is broken, he tells potential voters. And he wants to fix it by focusing on three big changes. By reforming the federal budgeting process, the tax code and the regulatory system, Innis says Congress can revitalize the economy. He speaks with the passion of a business owner and the vocabulary of a professor.
If Republicans in the 1st District expect to hear a squishy, Rockefeller Republican message from Dan Innis because he is an openly gay academic, they will be surprised when they hear the passion with which he talks about liberating the economy from government constraints. On economic issues, Innis talks like a Tea Partier railing against crony capitalism and Chamber of Commerce Republicanism.
“My first memory of politics was Nixon’s price controls,” Innis said. Though only a boy, he could not make sense of the policy, he said. As he became more interested in business, he became more interested in politics. There was too much of the latter in the former. Now, he says, regulations and taxes are so burdensome that they are discouraging entrepreneurship.
Though economics is his focus, get him away from that and he is not lost. He opposes amnesty for illegal aliens and says that no one who moved here illegally should qualify for citizenship. On abortion, he is pro-choice but favors parental notification and a ban after 20 weeks. Many first-time candidates who enter politics because of one pet issue fail to inform themselves about other issues. Innis is not one of them. Not surprisingly for an academic, he has done his homework.
Many news stories say Innis resigned from UNH to run for Congress. He did not; he is on leave. If he does not win election, he can return as a professor, though he gave up his position as dean. But he does not plan to go back.
Asked where he sees himself in 10 years, he says, “In Congress, probably winding up my last term.” (He pledges to serve no more than 12 years if elected, and he says he has no ambition to run for Senate or governor or any other high office.)
To avoid returning to Durham, Innis plans to continue campaigning full time, when he is not on the phone raising money, which is necessary to pay for his full-time campaigning. He will have to do a lot of both if he is to catch the better-known and better-funded Guinta, who is spending his time campaigning against Shea-Porter, not Innis. But who knows? Maybe it is a “throw the bums out” year, as Innis says, and voters will find him to be refreshingly not bummy.
Andrew Cline is editorial page editor of the New Hampshire Union Leader and New Hampshire Sunday News. His column runs on Thursdays. You can follow him on Twitter @Drewhampshire.
My op/ed on the next steps the United States should take with regards to Iraq appeared in today's Concord Monitor:
Recent upheaval in Syria and Iraq spotlights President Obama's dangerously haphazard military and foreign policy strategy in the Middle East. The United States is weakened in the eyes of both our allies and our enemies, making us appear irresolute and confused.
Just nine months ago, with Sen. Jeanne Shaheen's support, the president asked Congress to back his ill-conceived "redline" bombing war against Syria, designed to weaken Syrian President Bashar Assad by strengthening the rebel militants seeking to overthrow him. Among those militant groups we had been helping is the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
Over past weeks, ISIL has turned against us and has used the weapons and training we provided them in Syria to gain control of a large swath of Syrian and Iraqi territory. Over this past weekend, ISIL has driven Iraqi forces back to Baghdad where they have concentrated in an effort to hold the capital. Now, some "hawks" in Washington want to redirect our bombs against ISIL.
What would bombing ISIL accomplish aside... Read Full Piece