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Judge Stops Obama Admin From Silencing Pro-Life Activist

by Steven Ertelt | Denver, CO | LifeNews.com | 1/30/12 7:17 PM

State

Pro-life attorneys, last week, were successful in getting a judge to stop an attempt by the Obama administration to silence a pro-life activist who, for years, has been helping women outside abortion centers find positive alternatives.

Thomas More Society attorneys defeated a request by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder for a preliminary injunction against longtime Denver area pro-life activist Ken Scott. After a full-day hearing, U.S. District Judge Philip A. Brimmer ruled that the Attorney General would not be reasonably likely to prove at trial that Scott physically obstructed employees of the Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains abortion facility in Denver.

The Attorney General has asserted ten separate violations of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act against Scott, seeking a $10,000 fine against him and an injunction to keep him 25 feet away from the facility.

“This is the latest in a series of meritless, harassing lawsuits filed by the Obama Administration that seek to squelch peaceful pro-life advocacy on public sidewalks outside abortion providers,” said Peter Breen, executive director and legal counsel for the Thomas More Society.

Breen added, in his statement to LifeNews today:  “In this case, the Attorney General presented no evidence that Mr. Scott injured, intimidated, or did anything other than speak to folks who willingly decided to stop their cars to talk with him. Assigning five taxpayer-funded prosecutors from Washington, D.C. to attack one peaceful man exercising his free speech rights is a colossal waste of money, uncalled for at any time, much less at a time of record government deficits, not to mention the Government’s gross insult to the First Amendment.”

United States v. Scott is one of many recent FACE Act lawsuits brought by the Obama Administration and its Attorney General, Eric Holder, against local sidewalk counselors, Breen says. The Attorney General’s primary legal theory is that a car that stops to speak to a sidewalk counselor constitutes a “physical obstruction” of access to an abortion facility and a violation of the FACE Act, punishable by a $10,000 fine and an injunction against sidewalk counseling at a particular facility.

But, Judge Brimmer’s ruling held that the brief delays experienced by cars waiting for others to finish their conversations with Ken Scott were not the kinds of “unreasonable delays” contemplated by the FACE Act. Judge Brimmer also held that the balance of the equities weighed in favor of Ken Scott.

Scott is a “sidewalk counselor” who offers pro-life literature, advice about nearby pregnancy resource centers, and other pro-life counseling and advocacy to individuals patronizing the Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains abortion facility in Denver.

Representing Ken Scott in the United States District Court were Peter Breen of the Chicago-based Thomas More Society, a national public interest law firm, and Rebecca Messall and Monica Flanigan of Denver’s Hackstaff Law Group, LLC. Ms. Messall, in addition to conducting her private law practice, has been CEO of the National Lawyers Association, a pro-life legal group, for the past two years and also served as board chair for Denver Catholic Charities.