Buffer zones have passed legal muster when the restrictions are minimal, the limit on speech neutral as to content and the government’s interest — in this case the protection of public safety — legitimate. To prevent voter intimidation, for example, electioneering is prohibited within a 10-foot-wide corridor leading to the entrance to polling places. A 2007 New Hampshire law designed to protect the sanctity of funeral services bans protests within 150 feet of the funeral location during, and for one hour before or after, the services, along with noisemaking that disturbs the peace during the funeral. A federal law sponsored by then-U.S. Rep. Charlie Bass, does the same for military funerals but sets an overly broad 500-foot buffer that deserves to be challenged.
The Massachusetts law regulates free speech around health care facilities in a time, place and manner that is reasonable. Should the high court agree, the New Hampshire Legislature should adopt its own version of the law.
— The Concord, N.H., Monitor
A new report should allay concerns about the environmental and ecological risks associated with coastal ocean aquaculture, especially the raising of finfish, such as salmon, in pens in near-shore waters.
Critics have argued that the concentration of wastes and unconsumed feed in such situations degrades ocean habitats and is a vector for disease and other harms that risk decimating viable wild fisheries. They also point to the danger of escaped farm-raised fish, often bred to be larger than their wild cousins, upsetting natural balances, overeating food sources and disrupting ancient genetic strains by interbreeding with wild stocks.
A study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration should go some way toward dispelling such concerns. It evaluated such effects as interactions with water quality, ocean habitats and marine life in view of a range of farming practices and types.