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High Court Rejects Abortion Activists’ Free Speech Appeal

The Supreme Court handed anti-abortion activists yet another defeat Monday, rejecting a free-speech appeal by California pickets arrested for parading too near an abortion doctor’s home.

The court, acting without comment, turned away arguments that a San Jose ordinance used against 16 anti-abortion demonstrators unlawfully interfered with their freedom of expression.

The ordinance imposes a 300-foot buffer zone in banning demonstrations that target private residences.

Although the action was not a decision and therefore set no precedent, it extended abortion foes’ recent high court losing streak.

Earlier this month, the court rejected a sweeping challenge to federal limits on abortion-clinic protests. The justices let stand rulings in a Virginia case that said the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act does not infringe on anyone’s freedom of expression or religion.

The court had rejected a similar challenge to the FACE law in June.

In the last year, the court also turned away appeals by anti-abortion activists who say they wrongly are being sued as racketeers in their efforts to stop women from having abortions.

And a year ago Tuesday, the court cleared the way for the jailing of Operation Rescue founder Randall Terry because President Clinton was shown a fetus during the 1992 Democratic National Convention.

The court in 1992 ruled that states cannot ban most abortions, reaffirming the constitutional right of abortion it first announced in 1973.

In other action Monday, the court:

Let Coral Gables, Fla., impose stringent regulations on the appearance of newspaper vending machines on the city’s public sidewalks. The regulations had been challenged as free-speech violations.

Agreed to decide in a case from Missouri whether labor unions, in behalf of their members, may sue companies that fail to give the legally required notice of plant closings or mass layoffs.

Threw out an appeal in which South Carolina argued that The Citadel should remain all-male even without a separate, state-run program for women. The action had no effect on a pending fight in a federal court in South Carolina over the military college’s admissions policy.

Said it will use an Illinois case to decide whether doctors’ privilege against testifying about patients in court can be extended to psychologists and other mental health workers.


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