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Madsen v. Women’s Health Center, Inc.

United States Supreme Court
512 U.S. 753 (1994)

Madsen v. Women's Health Center, Inc.


Madsen (defendant) was one of a group of anti-abortion protesters enjoined by the courts of the State of Florida against picketing within a certain distance of the Women’s Health Center, Inc. (plaintiff). The trial court found that the protestors had violated the court's initial injunction by obstructing access to the street in front of the clinic and by approaching vehicles at the driveway of the clinic in an effort to hand out anti-abortion literature. The trial court found that the number of protesters approached 400 at times and that the noise generated by the protesters sometimes involved the use of bullhorns and amplified speakers. The trial court also found that the noise generated by the protests detrimentally affected the health and emotional well-being of clinic patients. Therefore, the court issued a new injunction that imposed expanded limitations on protest activities. Among other things, the injunction (1) prohibited protestors from entering or congregating within a 36-foot buffer zone around the clinic's property, including the clinic's entrances, driveway, and parking lot; (2) prohibited protestors from gathering on private property within the buffer zone at the back and side of the clinic; (3) limited the protestors' ability to make excessive noise or use audio-amplifying devices during certain hours; (4) prohibited the protestors from displaying images that might be seen by clinic patients or their families; (5) prohibited the protestors from physically approaching anyone seeking the clinic's services within 300 feet of the clinic, unless the person indicated their consent to communicating; and (6) prohibited protestors from picketing or using audio-amplifying devices within 300 feet of the homes of the clinic's staff members. The protesters challenged the injunction in state and federal court. The state supreme court upheld the injunction, but the federal appellate court struck it down. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari to resolve the conflict between the state and federal courts about whether the injunction was constitutional.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Rehnquist, C.J.)

Concurrence/Dissent (Stevens, J.)

Concurrence/Dissent (Scalia, J.)

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