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Justice Ginsburg Explains 'Buffer Zone' Ruling, Criticizes Hobby Lobby Decision

Justice Ginsburg Explains 'Buffer Zone' Ruling, Criticizes Hobby Lobby Decision

August 1, 2014 — Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Thursday defended the high court's decision to overturn a Massachusetts "buffer zone" law and suggested that the court would have ruled differently in the Hobby Lobby contraceptive coverage case if more of the justices were female, the AP/ABC News reports.

During an interview with the Associated Press, Ginsburg said that the high court's decision to reject the 35-foot buffer zone around abortion clinics in Massachusetts "was not a compromise decision but a good decision to say yes, you can regulate, but it is speech so you have to be careful not to go too far."

She added that the state's defense of the law was weak. "If you looked at what they had in evidence, it was pitiful compared to some in-your-face demonstrations," she said, noting that the state had since replaced the law.

Ginsburg during the interview also commented on the Supreme Court's decision in the Hobby Lobby case, noting that "if the court had been composed of nine women the result would have been different" (Sherman, AP/ABC News, 8/1).

Ginsburg also discussed the Hobby Lobby ruling in a separate interview with Katie Couric of Yahoo! News. The justice said that while she "certainly respect[s] the belief of the Hobby Lobby owners ... they have no constitutional right to foist that belief on ... hundreds and hundreds" of female employees (Goodwin, Yahoo! News, 8/1).

However, she added, "I am ever hopeful that if the court has a blind spot today, its eyes will be open tomorrow" (Berenson, Time, 7/31).

Comments on Roe v. Wade

During her interview with Couric, Ginsburg also critiqued the high court's ruling in Roe v. Wade, saying that the "problem with Roe v. Wade was, it not only declared the Texas [antiabortion-rights] law, the most extreme law, unconstitutional, but it made every law in the country, even the most liberal, unconstitutional."

She said the ruling, therefore, "gave the right-to-life people a single" and "very effective target" on which to focus (Yahoo! News, 8/1).