Pro-Life Activists Head to Supreme Court Again in Protest Case

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 29, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Pro-Life Activists Head to Supreme Court Again in Protest Case Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 29, 2005

Washington, DC ( — The Supreme Court will hold hearings on two abortion-related cases Wednesday. The one drawing most of the attention concerns a New Hampshire parental notification law. But a second case involves pro-life protesters and it marks the third time the same case has been at the high court.

"This should be our last trip to the Supreme Court," says Joe Scheidler of the Pro-Life Action League.

The lawsuit pits the pro-life group against the pro-abortion National Organization of Women, which claims Scheidler’s organization participated in illegal and violent protests against abortion businesses. NOW says the group should be prosecuted under federal RICO statutes that are used to target organized crime.

The Supreme Court has rejected that argument before, but a federal appeals court ignored the decision.

"After our second trip here, the Court concluded that ‘the jury’s finding of a RICO violation must be reversed,’" Scheidler explained. Former Chief Justice William Rehnquist wrote for the 8-1 court that the RICO statutes should not be used.

"NOW’s lawyers don’t think the Supreme Court meant what it said in ruling that the judgment must be reversed," said Scheidler. "We think they meant what they said and that they will say it again."

In a statement obtained by, Eleanor Smeal, former president of NOW when the case was filed and now head of the Feminist Majority Foundation, claimed the case related to "stopping illegal violence directed against women’s health clinics, abortion providers and their patients."

The group plans a protest tomorrow morning outside the Supreme Court.

The case was originally filed in 1986 and the RICO charges were added in 1989 in an attempt to bankrupt Scheidler’s group.

The Chicago-based Thomas More Society and its Chief Counsel, Thomas Breach, have represented Scheidler and the Pro-Life Action League throughout the twenty-year history of the case. However, they have given the Bush administration half of their allotted oral argument time as it seeks to defend Schiedler’s group.