Mrs. McCullen and Justice Jackson

The U.S. Senate on a 53-47 vote has confirmed Ketanji Brown Jackson to a seat on the Supreme Court.

While the Senate Judiciary Committee was hearing testimony on the nomination a couple of weeks ago, a familiar name turned up: Eleanor McCullen, sidewalk counselor and free speech advocate, victorious plaintiff in the McCullen v. Coakley case that overturned a Massachusetts buffer zone law. Her full statement to the Judiciary committee is now a matter of public record. Bottom line: any senator voting to confirm Jackson to the Court was voting to confirm someone known to be hostile to peaceful pro-life witnesses.

Here’s an excerpt.

I was deeply saddened to find out that Judge Jackson, while working in private practice, advocated in favor of Massachusetts’ previous ‘buffer zone’ law in her amicus brief on behalf of abortion clinics and abortion advocacy groups including NARAL. In her amicus brief, she and her colleagues maligned pro-life sidewalk counselors, characterizing us in ugly and false ways.

Her misrepresentations certainly don’t describe me or any of the sidewalk counselors that I have worked with over the years who provide support, love, and options to women. Indeed, the entire reason I challenged the ‘buffer zone’ law was because I did not want to shout from a distance or come across as insensitive or compassionless to the women and families I served with love.

Thankfully, in 2014, after years of litigation, all nine Justices of the Supreme Court agreed that Massachusetts’s ‘buffer zone’ violated the First Amendment.

…I’m thankful the Supreme Court ruled unanimously in my case. When a woman is alone, sidewalk counselors walk with her in that moment. When a child is just minutes from losing his or her life, sidewalk counselors serve as their voice.

…I would ask Judge Jackson that if she is confirmed to the Supreme Court of the United States she will choose to uphold all Americans’ First Amendment freedoms.

In conclusion, you might wonder why I am so passionate about supporting mothers and free speech. Well, it’s called love. And love . . . you can’t argue with that.

Statement of Eleanor McCullen
Hearing on the Nomination of the Honorable Ketanji Brown Jackson to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
March 24, 2022
Eleanor McCullen. Alliance Defending Freedom photo.

To no one’s surprise, New Hampshire’s Senators Shaheen and Hassan voted to confirm now-Justice Jackson.

Dueling rallies in Washington over Dobbs case

While the Dobbs case was being argued at the U.S. Supreme Court on December 1, two rallies were taking place outside. I went to Washington for the day in order to stand with the people calling on the Court to overturn Roe v. Wade and its cousin Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

Dobbs is about a Mississippi law setting a 15-week limit on abortions. May a state regulate abortion before viability? The Supreme Court might say yes or no. It might use the case to overrule Roe, or it might make a narrow ruling that OKs the Mississippi law while somehow keeping Roe and Casey in place. We’ll find out by the end of next June.

There were about two thousand people standing in front of the Supreme Court building on December 1, roughly evenly divided between pro-life and pro-Roe. A crowd-control fence divided the two groups, although there was plenty of peaceful passage back and forth. Capitol Police kept an eye on things.

It was a noisy gathering. Each side had about three hours worth of speakers, with mics and loudspeakers. There were chants and songs and shouts. Despite the sound system, I couldn’t make out many words on either side because of the ambient noise. Anyone following the live-streamed rallies remotely probably heard more speakers than I did.

It was worth listening later to a recording of Kathryn Jean Lopez’s speech. I recommend it. https://youtu.be/4ymvmIiaiO8

I met up with a group from Feminists for Life to pick up a sign. Just about every other pro-life group I’ve ever heard of, plus a few I hadn’t, was represented in the crowd. The diversity was great, as though speakers at the side rallies at the annual March for Life had been suddenly handed the keys to the main stage. The only thing we all had in common was a determination to move past Roe.

placard saying "Peace begins in the womb"
The sign I carried outside the Supreme Court, courtesy of Feminists for Life: Peace begins in the womb.

U.S. Supreme Court to hear challenge to Roe on December 1

The state of Mississippi enacted a law in 2018 restricting abortion after 15 weeks’ gestation. It was challenged in court (of course). The case, called Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, has reached the U.S. Supreme Court. Oral arguments are scheduled for December 1, with a decision to be handed down in 2022. The Court will be asked to rule on whether states may enact any pre-viability abortion restrictions.

This gives the Court a chance to overrule Roe and Casey. It also gives the Court a chance to affirm them.

For all the recent agitation that has accompanied the nomination and confirmation of Supreme Court Justices, no one knows how Dobbs will come out.

I’ll be traveling to Washington, DC on December 1 to stand outside the Supreme Court beside pro-life activists from around the country urging the Justices to let the Mississippi law stand. Discount airfare, one-day trip, pack a lunch: no sweat. For me, it’ll be like the March for Life seven weeks early.

For those staying closer to home, a coalition of Christian groups is organizing an online prayer event to be held on November 18 at 8 p.m. Eastern time. From the event’s invitation:

Join Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant Christians across the country coming together online to pray for the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case. This is the case that could could overturn Roe v. Wade—the Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal in all 50 states. This historic online gathering will bring together Christians across denominations. Together, we will pray for a just outcome that protects millions of preborn babies and their mothers. Jesus says, “where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Mt 18:20). Join us!

Find the flyer for the November event at prayfordobbs.com. There’s also a printable information sheet about the Dobbs case. Share freely.

One needn’t be Christian to recognize the right to life, and groups like Secular Pro-Life are supporting the Mississippi law. There’s room for everyone to urge the Court to move past Roe.