A 35-foot, no-protest zone around abortion clinics in Massachusetts violates the First Amendment speech rights of those seeking to speak to the women who enter, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Thursday.

Writing for the court, Chief Justice John Robert Jr. said the state has “undeniably significant interests in maintaining public safety” on streets and sidewalks near clinics. “But here the commonwealth has pursued those interests by the extreme step of closing a substantial portion of a traditional public forum to all speakers,” the chief justice said. “It has done so without seriously addressing the problem through alternatives that leave the forum open for its time-honored purposes. The commonwealth may not do that consistent with the First Amendment.”

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