Mayor’s Office

City Attorney Eileen Blackwood Further Statement in Response to U.S. Supreme Court Ruling Striking Down Massachusetts Buffer Zone Law

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 2, 2014
Contact:  Mike Kanarick
                 802.735.7962

City Attorney Eileen Blackwood Further Statement in Response to U.S. Supreme Court Ruling Striking Down Massachusetts Buffer Zone Law

“Last Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an opinion in the McCullen v. Coakley case dealing with a Massachusetts buffer zone law.  That opinion impacts one of two sections of Burlington’s buffer zone ordinance approved by the City Council in 2012.  In response to the Supreme Court decision, the Burlington Police Department has suspended enforcement of Burlington Code of Ordinances Section 21-113(2), which prohibits a person from knowingly congregating, patrolling, picketing or demonstrating within a 35-foot area surrounding the premises of a reproductive health care facility, known as the buffer zone.  Section 21-113(1), which prohibits a person from knowingly obstructing, detaining, hindering, impeding, or blocking a person’s entry to or exit from such a facility, was not addressed by the Supreme Court and will remain in place and continue to be enforced. 

At the July 14, 2014 City Council meeting, I will ask the City Council to amend the ordinance to reflect these changes and to refer the ordinance to the City Council’s Ordinance Committee for consideration of any other amendments that may be reasonable and consistent with the Supreme Court’s opinion.

To be clear, between now and City Council action on July 14, 2014, no enforcement action will be taken against any individuals for demonstrating, congregating, picketing, or patrolling within the 35-foot buffer zone, as long as they do not obstruct, detain, hinder, impede, or block another person's entry to or exit from a reproductive health care facility.”

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Press Release Date: 
07/02/2014
City Department: 
Mayor's Office