The First Amendent had a short lived lead over Maura Healey with the 8-0 Supreme Court decision against the “buffer zone” law she helped craft. Recent news of a settlement between the Commonwealth and an advertising firm acting on behalf of prolife activists means that Healey has scored a point, albeit not before a court, and the score is now tied. We now have a virtual buffer zone in place of a physical one.
The ostensible reason behind the settlement is our consumer protection laws. Technology coupled with buzzwords, we are told, changes everything. It is also a coincidence that once again it is pro-life activists who are in the sights of the AG.
Remove technology. Eliminate the buzzwords. Let’s say we are instead talking about a “geo-facing” billboard.
- It is “geo-located” across from abortion clinic because, well, there’s a abortion clinic there.
- It is “geo-facing” the abortion clinic so it can be seen from the abortion clinic windows, thus targeting a particular group of people who are the intended audience of the pro-life ad.
Is it free speech or does it run afoul of the consumer protection laws? This isn’t a hard question to answer except for Maura Healey. Even Hiawatha Bray of the Globe gets it.