Judge Forces Obama Admin to Stop Harassing Pro-Life Activist
by Steven Ertelt | Washington, DC | LifeNews.com | 3/22/12 12:14 PM
A federal judge’s ruling has forced the Obama administration to drop its harassment of a Colorado-based pro-life advocate who provides abortion alternatives to women outside Denver abortion facilities.
As LifeNews reported in January, pro-life attorneys 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 had 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.
Now, TMS attorneys tell LifeNews they secured agreement from the U.S. Attorney General’s office to dismiss all of the civil charges pending against Scott, who had been accused of physically obstructing clients and employees of the Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains abortion facility.
“This is a monumental vindication of the free speech rights of those who offer assistance at the nation’s abortion clinics,” said Peter Breen, executive director & legal counsel of the Thomas More Society, which represented Scott.
Breen added, “The charges against Scott, like a flurry of other charges the Justice Department recently has brought against pro-lifers all over the country, were fundamentally flawed and repugnant to the United States Constitution. The Government here sought to criminalize leafleting on a public sidewalk, which is clearly protected by the First Amendment, even when that leafleting occurs outside an abortion clinic.”
The Thomas More Society retained Denver attorney Rebecca Messall to assist with the defense of Scott. The agreement resulted after a settlement conference held this afternoon at the Alfred A. Arraj United States Courthouse in Denver.
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.