The states’ legal document states that “Hill has allowed the government to violate First Amendment rights for over two decades and continues to do so.”
The case of Vitagliano was dismissed by a New York District Court citing the precedent set by Hill v. Colorado. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals also dismissed her case on June 21 using the same Hill precedent.
Both courts concurred with attorneys representing Westchester County that the New York bubble law is legally sound under the binding precedent established by Hill in 2000.
In its ruling, the Second Circuit Court stated that Vitagliano’s arguments challenging the Hill decision “do not affect the outcome of the appeal.” The court further highlighted that the Supreme Court has made it clear that if a precedent is applicable to a case, even if it’s based on reasons rejected in other decisions, the lower court should follow the controlling case, leaving the possibility of overruling to the higher court.
Consequently, the Hill precedent remains in effect, validating the county’s bubble zone and withstanding First Amendment scrutiny.
Vitagliano is now appealing to the Supreme Court to revisit the Hill v. Colorado precedent and reverse laws that restrict the free speech of pro-life advocates near abortion clinics nationwide.
The Supreme Court has yet to indicate whether it will accept the case. Mark Rienzi, President and CEO of Becket, expressed optimism that the Supreme Court will consider the case and potentially overturn Hill to safeguard the First Amendment rights of sidewalk counselors.
Rienzi noted that the substantial number of amicus briefs submitted demonstrates robust support and underscores the importance of Mrs. Vitagliano’s case.
Furthermore, Rienzi highlighted that 18 briefs supporting certiorari reflect a diverse coalition challenging the Supreme Court’s Roe-era precedent, Hill v. Colorado, which upheld bubble zone laws around abortion clinics.
Despite the Westchester Board of Legislators repealing the part of the bubble zone law prohibiting pro-life counselors from approaching abortion-minded women outside clinics, there are still significant limitations on pro-life free speech within the county. The Thomas More Society, representing 40 Days for Life, is involved in a separate lawsuit related to Westchester County’s restrictions on pro-life advocacy.Share on Facebook «||» Share on Twitter «||» Share on Reddit «||» Share on LinkedIn