Supreme Court rules against recess appointments, abortion clinics' buffer zones

By Kyle Johnson,

The Supreme Court handed down two rulings on Thursdays, aiming to curb recess appointments by the president and striking down the Massachusetts law instituting buffer zones around abortion clinics.

In a unanimous decision, the country's highest court ruled that President Barack Obama's appointments to the National Labor Relations Board while the Senate was taking a short break two years ago violated the Constitution, The New York Times reports.

In the majority opinion, Justice Stephen G. Breyer wrote that appointments should come only during breaks in excess of 10 days, as opposed to the three-day span that Obama made the appointments.

Critics of the ruling say that such appointments could be held off simply if one party controls either house of Congress and meets in pro forma sessions, similar to back in 2012.

The Supreme Court also ruled that a Massachusetts law that created 35-foot buffer zones around abortion clinics meant to keep anti-abortion protesters away from the entrance violated the First Amendment, according to Reuters.

Chief Justice John Roberts said in the majority opinion that the 2007 law was too narrow and went against free speech for the protesters. Massachusetts has "too readily foregone options that could serve its interests just as well, without substantially burdening the kind of speech in which petitioners wish to engage."

The state will have a chance to go back and introduce a less restrictive buffer zone law as the Supreme Court opted not to also strike down Colorado's similar law.

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