Americans United for Life Action President and CEO Dr. Charmaine Yoest called for the U.S. Senate to vote no on cloture on the nomination of Caitlin Halligan to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, in what will be a scored vote on life.
“Halligan shows signs of being the quintessential judicial activist,” noted Dr. Yoest. “She is unqualified to sit on such a prestigious court because of her conduct in office, using her position in state government to advance radical, pro-abortion legal theories against the constitutional rights of pro-life citizens.”
Cloture is likely to be filed on her nomination, followed by a vote next week.
Halligan’s abortion activism came to light when she used her position as Solicitor General for the state of New York to bring the weight of her office against peaceful pro-life protestors. In 2002, in the Supreme Court case of NOW v. Scheidler, Halligan attempted to squash the First Amendment rights of private citizens who opposed abortion, and tried to intimidate and bankrupt them by expanding the reach of the federal Hobbs Act and the federal civil RICO (racketeering) law. Halligan urged the Supreme Court to adopt NOW’s unprecedented legal theory that public protest that diminished the business of abortion clinics constituted federal “extortion.”
For 10 years, from 1985 to 1995, AUL was co-counsel for Joseph Scheidler in NOW v. Scheidler and thereafter filed amicus briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court against the expansion of Hobbs Act extortion and RICO, defending the constitutional rights of Americans to peacefully assemble and peacefully protest.
Halligan’s role in the case was extraordinary because she attempted to persuade the Supreme Court that the history of New York law was essential to a proper interpretation of the Hobbs Act/RICO and that her position at Solicitor General of New York gave her special insight and influence in interpreting New York’s extortion law.
The Supreme Court threw out the case twice and eventually rejected Halligan’s position 8-1. Even Justice Ginsburg, the most liberal member of the Court, authored a concurring opinion rejecting Halligan’s attempt to stretch the Hobbs Act to apply to abortion protestors. Ginsburg wrote, “The Court is rightly reluctant, as I see it, to extend RICO’s domain further by endorsing the expansive definition of ‘extortion.'”
“Halligan admittedly ‘provided substantial assistance’ in filing the brief on behalf of New York and inserting herself into this effort to sever pro-life Americans from their Constitutional rights,” said Dr. Yoest. “Her willingness to twist laws–designed to confront organized crime–against peaceful protestors demonstrates why Americans United for Life Action is calling for a NO vote. The Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade wrongly took the issue of life out of the hands of voters through an activist court. Halligan’s nomination represents the possibility of further judicial activism on abortion, and she must not be allowed to receive a lifetime appointment to the Court of Appeals.”
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AULA will send a letter to members of the U.S. Senate to urge a NO vote on cloture on Halligan’s nomination.
ACTION: Contact the Senate and urge your senators to oppose Halligan.