Mayor Craig and the NH ACLU Agree: You Can't Impose Buffer Zones on Public Sidewalks - Granite Grok

Mayor Craig and the NH ACLU Agree: You Can’t Impose Buffer Zones on Public Sidewalks


Gilles Bissonette of the New Hampshire ACLU made it clear to the City of Manchester that a proposed ordinance change might be unconstitutional. Paul Feely reports that by a 12-0 vote the board of Alderman approved a move that would “allow downtown business owners to control the use of sidewalks outside their storefronts year-round.”

Mayor Joyce Craig, leaning heavily on the opinion of the NH-ACLU vetoed the proposal.

“The city is limited in its ability to simply designate certain public spaces — sidewalks, for example — as non-public fora (plural for forum) by bestowing exclusive use to a private business.”

“I don’t know why we would knowingly put the city in jeopardy of another lawsuit which will result in wasting taxpayer dollars,” Craig said after vetoing the proposal.

Democrats along with then-Governor Hassan passed a buffer zone law that does exactly that. It gives abortion clinic managers power to exercise rights to which the NH-ACLU and Craig claim they are not entitled.

Feely reports that,

In his letter, Bissonnette doesn’t provide any formal policy recommendations to city officials, as doing so “may exceed the scope of our mission to fight for the rights of all individuals, regardless of income level, to freely use public places in accordance with the State and Federal Constitutions.”


At least one activist who emailed me wondered, where has the NH-ACLU been hiding during testimony for any or all of the bills to repeal the unconstitutional New Hampshire Buffer Zone law?

A law that was passed and signed while the US Supreme Court was in the process of overturning a nearly identical bill law in Massachusetts.

No abortion clinic manager in the state has ever exercised their right to exclusive use, probably because this would then give someone standing to go to court where it would eventually be thrown out. A waste of taxpayer money we could prevent if the legislature just repealed the law.

| Union Leader

Image: The Nation