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January 15, 2014 AT 11:36 AM
A majority of Supreme Court justices appeared skeptical Wednesday of a Massachusetts law that establishes a 35-foot buffer zone to prevent protests outside clinics that provide abortions — a restriction the protesters say violates the First Amendment. In an oral argument, some justices said they were concerned that the law restricts speech in a way that is not neutral among viewpoints, as clinic workers can talk to patients inside the buffer, while those who object to abortion cannot. The justices also appeared to worry that the 35-foot zone is too big, and some voiced general concern with the concept of restricting speech on a public sidewalk. The case was brought by a 77-year-old woman, Eleanor McCullen, who stakes out a position outside a yellow line painted on a Boston sidewalk and tries to persuade women headed for a clinic to reconsider.