by Steven Ertelt
June 28, 2005
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — The Supreme Court will again take up a legal case that has been raging for nearly two decades and pits abortion advocates against pro-life protesters.
NOW and the nation’s leading abortion supporters sued to stop abortion facility protests claiming that those involved, specifically Chicago pro-life advocate Joe Scheidler, were guilty of violating federal antitrust, racketeering (RICO), and extortion laws.
The high court previously issued an opinion in February 2003 ruling decisively 8-1 in favor of the pro-life advocates.
Writing for the court, Chief Justice William Rehnquist ordered lower court rulings saying the protesters were guilty to be reversed. It said the nationwide RICO injunction limiting pro-life protests "must necessarily be vacated."
Despite that decision, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals said four other aspects of the guilty verdicts could be upheld. Scheidler and the others took the case back to the Supreme Court.
Attorneys for the pro-life protesters hope there is an end in sight in the marathon legal battle.
Tom Brejcha, lead defense counsel for the Scheidler defendants, commented on the length of the legal battle and said "we’re committed to see this thing through to the end, whenever it may come."
Jay Sekulow, representing the pro-life group Operation Rescue in the case, wrote in his brief that "this court put a definitive end to a meritless marathon civil RICO suit" in 2003 and should rule that the case should be closed for good.
"The high court acted correctly two years ago in determining that RICO could not be used against the pro-life demonstrators in this case," Sekulow explained.
"By taking this case now, we are hopeful the high court will move to vindicate these pro-life demonstrators once and for all," he said.
The pro-life protesters have been supported with legal briefs in the case from a host of organizations worried about the free speech rights of protesters. These include PETA, Pax Christi USA, Concerned Women for America, and others.
In addition, nine states including Alabama, Delaware, Michigan, and Ohio filed supporting legal papers because they feared a new federal crime would be invented if the Supreme Court rules against the protesters.
The cases are Scheidler v. National Organization for Women, 04-1244, and Operation Rescue v. National Organization for Women, 04-1352.
Related web sites:
American Center for Law and Justice – https://www.aclj.org