The Obama administration lost one round of a legal battle it is waging in court against a Florida pro-life advocate — a battle that saw the administration unfairly seek to punish a peaceful sidewalk counselor under a law meant to stop violence and intimidation.
However, that hasn’t stopped the Obama administration from continuing to target a peaceful pro-life activist.
Susan Pine is a sidewalk counselor. She counsels women who are considering abortion and provides help, resources, and support for women who choose life. Without any evidence of wrongdoing, Attorney General Holder accused Pine of obstructing the entrance to an abortion clinic in violation of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (“FACE”).
Attorney General Eric Holder and the Department of Justice had sought to levy thousands of dollars in fines against the pro-life activist as well as seeking a permanent injunction banning her from continuing her faithful 20-year ministry outside an abortion clinic in West Palm Beach, Florida.
“But this scheme was thrown out of court and drew criticism from Judge Kenneth L. Ryskamp, who concluded that the government lacked evidence to prove not just one, but “all three elements of its FACE (Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act) claim,” said Mathew Staver, Chairman of Liberty Counsel Action, whose organization is assisting Pine.
“Eric Holder’s Department of Justice (DOJ) just lost a major court battle due to their unjustified charges against a pro-life woman who was defended by Liberty Counsel,” Staver added.
Judge Ryskamp concluded that “the evidence could not lead a rational jury to find that Ms. Pine’s conduct [i.e., having peaceful conversations with clinic visitors on a public sidewalk] constituted a physical obstruction within the meaning of FACE.” The Judge chastised Holder for seeking to apply federal law in a clearly unconstitutional manner, saying, “Stretching the terms of FACE to apply to this case…so that a desire to provide people with information about alternatives to abortion constitutes an unlawful motive, would unjustifiably impinge on Ms. Pine’s First Amendment rights.”
Instead of backing down, the Obama administration is moving ahead with an appeal, according to the pro-life legal group Life legal Defense Foundation.
“Mary Susan Pine thought her legal battles were over when a Florida judge dismissed all charges against her based on the complete lack of evidence presented by Attorney General Eric Holder,” the organization informed LifeNews last week. “After all, Judge Ryskamp openly chastised Holder, questioning his motives for bringing the charges in the first place and suggesting a conspiracy between the government and the abortion clinic to violate Ms. Pine’s free speech rights.”
LLDF said: “The Department of Justice disregarded the court’s sound ruling and has now filed an appeal. Despite the struggling economy and skyrocketing federal debt, apparently, the U.S. Government sees fit to expend unlimited taxpayer dollars pursuing these baseless charges against Ms. Pine. The Department of Justice disregarded the court’s sound ruling and has now filed an appeal. Despite the struggling economy and skyrocketing federal debt, apparently, the U.S. Government sees fit to expend unlimited taxpayer dollars pursuing these baseless charges against Ms. Pine.”
Staver also commented, saying, “The Obama administration is again turning its intimidation tactics directly against a pro-life American in order to advance its political agenda. Susan Pine, who is represented by our sister ministry, Liberty Counsel, is once again facing the full force of the United States Department of Justice (DOJ). This week, Eric Holder’s DOJ appealed their case against Susan, even after a stinging rebuke from the trial-level federal judge.”
“I can scarcely imagine a more calculated and malicious assault on every American’s First Amendment rights as has been orchestrated by this administration – perhaps most evidenced by the conduct of Attorney General Eric Holder and his Department of Justice,” Staver added. “This latest action – appealing a case against an innocent pro-life hero after it was pointedly thrown out of court by a Judge who openly questioned what on earth the DOJ was thinking by bringing charges in the first place – is clearly politically motivated and patently frivolous.”
The government’s decision to prosecute Pine despite having no evidence of wrongdoing prompted Judge Ryskamp to suspect a conspiracy at the highest level of the Obama Administration.
“The Court is at a loss as to why the government chose to prosecute this case in the first place. The Court can only wonder if this action was the result of a concerted effort between the Government and the [abortion clinic], which began well before the date of the incident at issue, to quell Ms. Pine’s activities,” the judge said.
“For the past 20 years, Susan Pine has counseled women about the tragedy of such a course of action. Pine never obstructs anyone and denied she ever obstructed any vehicle, as the DOJ claimed (although with no evidence),” Staver said. “Liberty Counsel, our sister organization, represented Ms. Pine in the case of Holder v. Pine at no cost and will continue to represent her if she needs further legal help.”
“Liberty Counsel Action will not stand by while the Attorney General seeks to intimidate Americans for their pro-life beliefs or for any other reason,” he continued. “When Eric Holder should be prosecuting terrorists, he is wasting time manufacturing baseless lawsuits against law-abiding, pro-life Americans and engaging in other politically-inspired campaigns against pro-liberty, pro-family citizens! Such actions by the Attorney General are abuses of power and examples of intolerably misplaced priorities.”
Staver says the Pine case is one reason why Holder should be removed from office.
“Mary Susan Pine is a picture of courage and moral strength. For the last twenty plus years, she has spent virtually every Saturday in front of an abortion clinic. Susan counsels women who are considering abortion and provides help, resources, and support for women who choose life for their babies,” he said. “Susan’s dedication made her a target of Eric Holder and the radically pro-abortion Obama Administration. But she would not be silenced. Even while targeted and harassed by the federal government, Susan continues to stand for life and defend those who cannot defend themselves.”
“In 2008, Holder refused to prosecute members of the New Black Panthers who were caught on video engaging in voter intimidation during Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign – yet, he will unleash his legal team to stop a pro-life woman from talking to people about the long-term effects of abortion,” Staver continued. “Mary Susan Rice was the target of Attorney General Holder’s misguided attempt to intimidate pro-life citizens. He failed. Yet, his DOJ is still considered (and even feared) by many to be a strong extension of Barack Obama’s political agenda. How many more outrageous cases will Eric Holder initiate to advance the Obama Administration’s political interests?”