Supreme Court Denies Review in “Gruesome Images” Case (Scott v. Saint John’s Church in the Wilderness)

I’m sorry to report that the Supreme Court has refused to hear our petition in this case. As usual, the Court has not given any reasons for the denial. The matter thus remains where it stood before the petition — some lower courts think that restricting gruesome images (and harsh words, such as signs calling abortion providers “murderers”) in places where young children can see them is constitutional, while others think it violates the First Amendment. A denial of certiorari is not a decision on the merits, so all the lower court decisions stand as precedents within their own jurisdictions, but as a conflicting body of law for other jurisdictions.

I’m naturally disappointed in the result, but I’m very happy to have participated in the case: It was a fight that was very much worth fighting, even though we lost. And I want to express my thanks to all the people who helped on the case:

  1. My cocounsel — Tom Brejcha, Peter Breen, and Jocelyn Floyd of the Thomas More Society (not to be confused with the Thomas More Law Center) and Rebecca Messall of the Messall Law Firm.
  2. Seth Fortin, a UCLA law student who helped me a great deal with the petition.
  3. Bruce Johnson and Ambika Doran of Davis Wright Tremaine LLP and Prof. Geoffrey Stone, who were counsel on the free speech scholars’ amicus brief, and the signatories, Profs. Floyd Abrams, Amy Adler, Jack Balkin, Vince Blasi, David Cole, Ronald Collins, Alan Dershowitz, Norman Dorsen, Daniel Farber, Kent Greenfield, Seth Kreimer, Sanford Levinson, Robert O’Neil, Martin Redish, Suzanna Sherry, Geoffrey Stone, Nadine Strossen, Jonathan Varat, and James Weinstein.
  4. Prof. Ed Gaffney, who was counsel on the Religion Clauses scholars’ amicus brief, and the signatories, Salam Al-Marayti and Profs. Michael Ariens, Thomas Berg, Zachary Calo, Bob Destro, Carl Esbeck, Marie Failinger, Edward Gaffney, Richard Garnett, Douglas Kmiec, Faisal Kutty, Michael Stokes Paulsen, Michael Perry, Richard Stith, and Lynn Wardle.
  5. Trevor Anderson, Joseph G. Gilliland, and Ben Smyser of the Emory Law School Supreme Court Advocacy Project, who drafted the Historians of Art and Photography amicus brief, Prof. Sarah Shalf, who was the counsel of record and the Project’s Faculty Advisor, and the signatories, Dora Apel, Stephen Eisenman, Renée C. Hoogland, Paul Jaskot, William J. Thomas Mitchell, Terence Smith, John Tagg, and Rebecca Zorach.
  6. Robert Joseph Muise and David Yerushalmi of the American Freedom Law Center, who were counsel on the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform amicus brief, and to the Center itself.