Supreme Court Hears Abortion Protest Case, Justices Seem United

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 30, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Supreme Court Hears Abortion Protest Case, Justices Seem United Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 30, 2005

Washington, DC ( — The Supreme Court held hearings on two abortion-related cases Wednesday and a second one had to do with an abortion protest case that has now reached the high court for the third time. The court previously rejected arguments by abortion advocates that a pro-life group should be subjected to laws that govern mobsters.

Two years ago the high court said there was no basis for the National Organization for Women’s claims that federal racketeering laws should be used to place huge finds on pro-life groups that protest outside abortion businesses.

A federal appeals court ruled a nationwide injunction could be placed on the protests on other grounds, which brought the case back to the high court.

The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) said the high court should put an end to this nearly 20-year-old case by putting the use of a federal statute designed to go after drug dealers and organized crime off limits for use against pro-life demonstrators.

"Unfortunately, a federal appeals court kept this meritless case alive. Now it is time for the high court to bring an end to this marathon litigation once and for all," ACLJ chief counsel Jay Sekulow said.

Most of the justices didn’t seem upset the appeals court kept the case alive, but they joined Chief Justice John Roberts in saying they wanted to issue a narrow ruling that wouldn’t make sweeping changes to criminal law.

Justice John Paul Stevens conceded the court may have overlooked information brought up at the appeals court level about threats of violence and admitted the court may not have known "what we were doing" in issuing the previous ruling.

However, Justices Antonin Scalia and David Souter questioned why the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals didn’t allow the case to end after the Supreme Court’s last ruling.

Justice Stephen Breyer said any accusations about threats of violence were unrelated to the RICO laws in question and would present a massive overhaul of criminal law if the court reviewed it.

Even some liberal groups joined the Pro-Life Action League and Operation Rescue in the case saying it should be dismissed and worrying about the threat to 1st Amendment rights if the abortion advocates win the case.

The case has resulted in a nationwide injunction against blockades and other tactics against abortion businesses that haven’t been used much in the last 10 years the case has bounced around the courts.