The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to review a lower court ruling that allows federal antiracketeering laws to be used against prolife activists who block the entrances to abortion clinics. The justices, without comment from the majority, declined to hear oral arguments in a case from Pennsylvania, where the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act was successfully used to prosecute protesters at a Philadelphia abortion clinic.
Justice Byron White, the lone dissenter, issued a six-page opinion arguing that the Court should hear the case in order to determine whether “RICO liability” may be imposed on groups that have no “profit-making element.”
The Court also let stand a lower court ruling that a woman who gave millions of dollars to the Bible Speaks, a Lenox, Massachusetts-based religious group, may get it all back based on her contention that she was unduly influenced to give. Church/state expert Dean Kelly of the National Council of Churches called the ruling “ridiculous.” “If a former member can recover contributions made to a religious group in good faith, and this became a trend, churches would have to put all donations in escrow, essentially being unable to use them for fear of having to give them back,” Kelly told the Chicago Tribune.
In other Court news, the Justice Department has filed a brief asking justices to oppose removal of food and water tubes from a woman who suffered severe brain damage in a car accident. It came in the case Cruzan v. Director of Missouri Department of Health, which the Court will hear next month. According to prolife sources, the Justice Department was considering filing a brief in favor of the “right to die” until a quiet prolife furor and a flurry of behind-the-scenes ...1
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