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Protest Zone Decision

Protest Zone Decision

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Published by tebrown
Protest Zone Decision by Judge William Sessions III on appeal by protesters at Planned Parenthood clinic in Burlington.
Protest Zone Decision by Judge William Sessions III on appeal by protesters at Planned Parenthood clinic in Burlington.

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Published by: tebrown on Feb 21, 2013
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02/21/2013

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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURTFOR THEDISTRICT OF VERMONT
 AGNES CLIFT, AMY COCHRAN, :MOLLY JESSE, JEAN OSBORNE, :RITA MANTONE, and BRIDGET :MOUNT, :Plaintiffs, :: Case no. 2:12-cv-214v. ::City of Burlington, Vermont, ::Defendant. ::
MemorandumOpinion and Order
Six Vermont residents, Agnes Clift, Amy Cochran, Molly Jesse, Rita Mantone, Bridget Mount, and Jean Osborne (the“Plaintiffs”) have brought facial and as-applied challenges tothe constitutionality of Burlington Code § 21-113(2) (the“Ordinance”) under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Ordinance creates afixed buffer zone extending 35 feet fromthe premises of areproductive health care facility (“RHCF”) within whichindividuals may not “knowingly congregate, patrol, picket ordemonstrate” unless they fall within one of five exemptions. The Plaintiffs claimthat the Ordinance violates their First andFourteenth Amendment rights because it discriminates on thebasis of content and viewpoint; because it is an invalid time,place, and manner restriction; because it is substantially
Case 2:12-cv-00214-wks Document 29 Filed 02/19/13 Page 1 of 74
 
2overbroad; and because it is unconstitutionally vague. Compl.¶¶ 142-97, ECF No. 1.Before the Court are two motions. For the reasons statedbelow, the Court
grants
the Citys Motion to Dismiss the facialchallenges to the Ordinance, ECF No. 13, and
denies
PlaintiffsMotion for a Preliminary Injunction, ECF No. 8.
BACKGROUNDI.
 
 The Ordinance
On July 16, 2012, the Burlington City Council (the“Council”) amended the City’s Code of Ordinances by adopting anew article, Article IX, Health Center Buffer Zones. BurlingtonCity Ordinance (“BCO”) § 21-111
et seq
. Article IX consists ofive sections.Section 21-111 lists the Councils findings. The Councilrecognized the need to balance individuals' First Amendment“right to speak for or against certain medical procedures” withother individuals’ “right to obtain medical counseling andtreatment in an unobstructed manner.BCO § 21-111. TheCouncil explained that in adopting the Ordinance, its intentionwasto ensure public safety and order, regulate the use opublic sidewalks and other conduct, promote the free flowof traffic on streets and sidewalks, reduce disputes andconfrontations requiring law enforcement services, protectproperty rights, protect First Amendment freedoms of speechand expression and secure a persons right to seekreproductive health care services.
Case 2:12-cv-00214-wks Document 29 Filed 02/19/13 Page 2 of 74
 
3
Id.
And the Council concluded that the limited buffer zoneestablished by the Article was “necessary to ensure thatpatients have unimpeded access to reproductive health careservices while also ensuring that the First Amendment rights of people to communicate their message to their intended audienceis not unduly restricted or overburdened.
Id.
Section 21-112 defines several terms used throughoutArticle IX:(1)
 
Reproductive Health Care Facilities
shall mean anybuilding, structure or place, or any portion thereof, atwhich licensed, certified, or otherwise legally authorizedpersons provide health care services or health carecounseling relating to the human reproductive system.
 
(2)
 
Buffer Zone
means an area of protection surroundingthe premises of a Reproductive Health Care Facility thathas a thirty-five (35) foot radius extending in alldirections.(3)
 
Premises of a Reproductive Health Care Facility
shallmean the driveway, entrance, entryway, or exit of aReproductive Health Care Facility and any parking lot inwhich the facility has an ownership, easement or leaseholdinterest or other property right.
 
(4)
 
Person
shall include, but is not limited to1.
 
Individuals;2.
 
Corporations;3.
 
Not-for profit organizations;4.
 
Partnerships;5.
 
Associations; and6.
 
Groups or other entities.
Id.
at § 21-112.Section 21-113 contains two separate provisions.Subsection (1), which is not challenged by Plaintiffs, prohibits
Case 2:12-cv-00214-wks Document 29 Filed 02/19/13 Page 3 of 74

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