Supreme Court rejects anti-abortion pastor's appeal on noise
Apr. 16, 2018
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court won't hear an appeal from a pastor who challenged a state law's noise limit that was used to restrict his anti-abortion protest outside a Planned Parenthood clinic in Portland, Maine.
The justices offered no comment Monday in rejecting the appeal from the Rev. Andrew March, who sued after he said Portland police officers repeatedly told him to lower his voice while he was protesting outside the clinic in Maine's largest city.
The legal case focused on part of the Maine Civil Rights Act that applies to noise outside health facilities. A federal judge temporarily blocked its enforcement, but the federal appeals court in Boston reversed that ruling.
A Planned Parenthood of Northern New England official said the appeals court made it clear that people have the right to health care without the interruption of protesters.
"Once our patients walk through the doors of our health center they are entitled to care without harassment and intimidation shouted from the street below," said Nicole Clegg, the organization's vice president of public policy.
The case started with a lawsuit by the state attorney general that accused a member of March's Cell 53 church of yelling so loudly about the murdering of babies in October 2015 that his voice could be heard in the counseling and examination rooms on the second floor.
March, whose Lewiston church declined comment on Monday, contended the law "targets pro-life advocates" in violation of the Constitution.
The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston ruled that the law was not an unconstitutional restriction of free speech because it didn't focus solely on abortion protests and could be used against any group of demonstrators.