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Madsen v. Women's Health Center, Inc. (1994)

In Brief

Madsen v. Women's Health Center, Inc., 512 U.S. 753 (1994):  Court establishes test for review of pro-life clinic demonstration injunctions; finds portions of injunction unconstitutional

A Florida state court entered an injunction against pro-life protestors outside a Melbourne clinic.  The injunction prevented demonstrations on public or private property within 36 feet of the clinic or 300 feet of clinic employee residences, sounds within earshot of, or images observable to, patients inside the clinic during morning surgery hours, and approaching clinic clientele within 300 feet of the clinic without their prior consent.

The Supreme Court held that the proper test for review of the injunction was whether it "burdened no more speech than necessary" to accomplish its goals, which were protecting a woman's freedom to seek legal medical services, ensuring public safety and order, promoting the free flow of traffic on public streets and sidewalks, and protecting the property rights of citizens.

The Court ruled that the noise restriction and the 36-foot buffer zone on public property were constitutional, but struck down the 36-foot buffer zone on private property, the "images observable" provision, the 300-foot no-approach zone around the clinic, and the 300-foot buffer zone around employee residences.

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