Harman Patil (Editor)

Bray v. Alexandria Women's Health Clinic

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Concurrence  Kennedy
End date  1993
Concur/dissent  Souter
Full case name  Jayne Bray, et al., Petitioners v. Alexandria Women's Health Clinic, et al.
Citations  506 U.S. 263 (more) 113 S. Ct. 753; 122 L. Ed. 2d 34; 1993 U.S. LEXIS 833; 61 U.S.L.W. 4080; 93 Cal. Daily Op. Service 258; 93 Daily Journal DAR 583
Majority  Scalia, joined by Rehnquist, White, Kennedy, Thomas
Dissent  Stevens, joined by Blackmun
Similar  Bellotti v Baird, Ayotte v Planned Parentho, Lamb's Chapel v Center M, Webster v Reproductive Health Se, Harris v McRae

Bray v alexandria women s health clinic 1991 arguing for pro life speech rights

Bray v. Alexandria Women's Health Clinic was a United States Supreme Court case in which the court held that 42 U.S.C. 1985(3) does not provide a federal cause of action against persons obstructing access to abortion clinics. Several abortion clinics (most known was the Alexandria Health Clinic) sued to prevent Jayne Bray and other anti-abortion protesters from voicing their freedom of speech in front of the clinics in Washington D.C.


Alexandria Women’s Health Clinic reported that the protesters violated 42 U.S.C. 1985(3), which prohibits two or more people on a highway or another's premises from depriving “any person or class of persons of the equal protection of the laws, or of equal privileges and immunities under the laws.”

District Court Ruling

Alexandria Health Clinic argued that the protesters were present to deny women their right to abortion and their right to interstate travel. The District Court found this case in favor of the Alexandria Women’s Health Clinic because they said protesters had sought out to reject women’s right to abortion. After revisiting the case, the Supreme Court came to a unanimous decision, stating that Bray and others blocked access to the clinics, therefore depriving women seeking abortions the right to interstate travel. The District Court also ruled on state law trespassing and public nuisance claims, ordering the offenders to stop trespassing on or obstructing access to clinics. Finally, the District Court ordered the protesters to pay the clinics’ attorney’s fees and costs on the 1985(3) claim.

Supreme Court Ruling

The Supreme Court reviewed the case and ruled in favor of Bray and others. Their argument was that they had not violated any of section 1985(3) by obstructing access to abortion clinics. They wrote that “there must be a class-based, invidiously discriminatory animus [underlying] the conspirators’ action” for them to violate that law. The clinics’ claimed that protesters created discriminatory animus toward women, but the Court viewed the situation as them protecting victims of abortion. Since abortion protests can’t reasonably be viewed as gender-based discrimination, there was no argument in the Supreme Court's eyes. Supreme Court Justice Scalia pointed out that interstate travel hadn’t been violated because the protests were carried out within the District of Columbia and were not directed toward interstate travelers.


Bray v. Alexandria Women's Health Clinic Wikipedia

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