Is the First Amendment Absolute Outside Abortion Clinics?

Slate's weekly political roundtable.
Jan. 17 2014 1:10 PM

The "You're Married—Psych! You're Not Married" Gabfest

Listen to Slate's show about Obama's NSA reform plan, gay marriage in Utah, and abortion protesters in Massachusetts.

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On this week’s Slate Political Gabfest, Emily Bazelon, John Dickerson, and David Plotz discuss why they expect Obama's NSA reforms to be limited, when the Supreme Court will have to take another gay marriage case, and whether a Massachusetts law that puts a buffer between abortion protesters and clinics violates the First Amendment.

Here are some of the links and references mentioned during this week's show:

  • David says he would definitely oppress the peasantry if he were king. John responds with a quote from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
  • The panelists predict Obama will propose only small NSA reforms, leaving more significant changes up to Congress and the courts.
  • The president's NSA reform review board in December issued a 300-page report containing 46 recommendations.
  • The American government radically overestimates the risk of terrorism, John Mueller and Mark G. Stewart wrote in 2011.
  • The NSA's phone data collection program played a role in only a handful of 225 terrorism cases that the New America Foundation analyzed.
  • U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby overturned Utah's gay marriage ban in December. The Supreme Court blocked same-sex marriages in Utah while the state appeals, but not before hundreds of couples wed. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder says the federal government will recognize their unions.
  • Emily writes that Holder's decision makes sense in the context of the Supreme Court's efforts to ensure dignity for same-sex couples.
  • Utah public opinion on gay marriage have been shifting quickly in favor of marriage equality.
  • Barry Friedman and Dahlia Lithwick wonder what the left will stand for after gay marriage is no longer a contentious issue.
  • The Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday in McCullen v. Coakley.
  • Emily writes that opponents of the abortion clinic buffer zone will and should win on First Amendment grounds.

John chatters about France's unstereotypical outrage over rumors that President François Hollande is having an affair.

Emily chatters about a Supreme Court case concerning presidential recess appointments.

David chatters about the funniest line from Duty, Robert Gates' new memoir.

Topic ideas for next week? You can tweet suggestions, links, and questions to @SlateGabfest. The email address for the Political Gabfest is gabfest@slate.com. (Email may be quoted by name unless the writer stipulates otherwise.)

Podcast production by Mike Vuolo. Links compiled by Rebecca Cohen.

Emily Bazelon is a Slate senior editor and the Truman Capote Fellow at Yale Law School. She is the author of Sticks and Stones.

John Dickerson is Slate's chief political correspondent and author of On Her Trail. Read his series on the presidency and on risk.

David Plotz is Slate's editor at large. He's the author of The Genius Factory and Good Book.