, Salem, MA

Local News

June 26, 2013

Lawyer part of Supreme Court case

Salem anti-abortion activist says buffer-zone fight is about free speech

SALEM — It’s like something out of fiction — the local lawyer who labors tirelessly for a deeply held cause finally gets a chance to fight for it on the biggest stage of all, the U.S. Supreme Court.

Salem attorney Philip Moran has been arguing and lobbying in opposition to laws allowing abortion for more than 40 years. Now his concern for that issue will send him to the table opposite the justices of the Supreme Court.

Moran, a lawyer for 45 years, will join a team asserting that Massachusetts violates the rights of anti-abortion protesters when it bars them from getting any closer to an abortion facility than 35 feet.

“My guesstimate is that our oral argument will be heard in December or January,” he says.

Catholic University law professor Mark Rienzi is expected to do the arguing, with Moran at his side, ready to assist or step in if needed. It will be his second visit to the court — last time he was a spectator.

“Rienzi has a half-hour to argue,” says Moran, with the commonwealth allowed a half-hour rebuttal.

It isn’t surprising his colleague is linked to Catholic University, since Moran’s own Catholic background is a factor in his longtime efforts opposing abortion.

He cannot recall a time when he did not have these views. They may have been communicated from his parents, he suggests, or by teachers at St. Mary’s Boys High School in Lynn, or at Holy Cross, where he earned his undergraduate degree. (Moran later bypassed the family insurance business to attend Suffolk University Law at night. His practice now revolves around estate planning and elder law.)

There was no moment, no epiphany leading him to the culture wars. As a founding member of Mass Citizens for Life in 1973, a member of the Pro-Life Legal Defense Fund and the National Right to Life Committee, it’s so much a part of him that he’s a bit at a loss to offer an explanation deeper than, “I believe life begins at conception.”

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