Schenck v. Pro-Choice Network of Western New York - Wikipedia

Schenck v. Pro-Choice Network of Western New York
Argued October 16, 1996
Decided February 19, 1997
Full case namePaul Schenck and Dwight Saunders v. Pro-Choice Network of Western New York, et al.
Citations519 U.S. 357 (more)
117 S. Ct. 855; 137 L. Ed. 2d 1; 1997 U.S. LEXIS 1270
The injunction provisions imposing "fixed buffer zone" limitations are constitutional, but the provisions imposing "floating buffer zone" limitations violate the First Amendment.
Court membership
Chief Justice
William Rehnquist
Associate Justices
John P. Stevens · Sandra Day O'Connor
Antonin Scalia · Anthony Kennedy
David Souter · Clarence Thomas
Ruth Bader Ginsburg · Stephen Breyer
Case opinions
MajorityRehnquist, joined by unanimous (Parts I, II–A); Stevens, O'Connor, Scalia, Kennedy, Souter, Thomas, Ginsburg (Part II–C); Stevens, O'Connor, Souter, Ginsburg, Breyer (Parts II–B, II–D)
Concur/dissentScalia, joined by Kennedy, Thomas
Laws applied
U.S. Const. amend. I

Schenck v. Pro-Choice Network of Western New York, 519 U.S. 357 (1997), was a case heard before the United States Supreme Court related to legal protection of access to abortion. The question before the court was whether the First Amendment was violated by placing an injunction on protesters outside abortion clinics. The court ruled in a 6–3 decision that "floating buffer zones" preventing protesters approaching people entering or leaving the clinics were unconstitutional, though "fixed buffer zones" around the clinics themselves remained constitutional. The Court's upholding the fixed buffer was the most important aspect of the ruling, because it was a common feature of injunctions nationwide.[1]

Paul Schenck challenged a Federal District Court injunction that restricted "sidewalk counselors" from approaching abortion clinic patients and others with Bibles, tracts and anti-abortion messages. Because these protesters often violently harassed and intimidated patients and staff or prevented them from entering the clinic, the Court upheld the fixed buffer zone around the clinics, although it struck down the floating buffer zone around individuals because its indefinite and movable nature made it difficult to administer and risked overly restricting free speech.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Greenhouse, Linda (February 20, 1997). "High Court Upholds 15-Foot Buffer Zone At Abortion Clinics". The New York Times.

Further reading[edit]

  • Hostetler, Darrin Alan (1997). "Face-to-Face with the First Amendment: Schenck v. Pro-Choice Network and the Right to 'Approach and Offer' in Abortion Clinic Protests". Stanford Law Review. Stanford Law Review, Vol. 50, No. 1. 50 (1): 179–223. doi:10.2307/1229361. JSTOR 1229361.

External links[edit]