Supreme Court will hear Operation Rescue case. Again.
Back in 1994, the Supreme Court ruled that prolife activists could be prosecuted under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), a law created to combat organized crime. Eight years later, the case is back at the Supreme Court as activists on both sides of the abortion debate argue over how RICO can be applied. Does RICO allow a court to grant an injunction, or does it just allow judges to award damages? And does the "right of access to abortion services" count as property, which activists would "steal" through their demonstrations?
"It is clear that a federal statute designed for drug dealers and organized crime has been misapplied and used as a powerful weapon to silence the prolife message," says American Center for Law and Justice chief counsel Jay Sekulow.
The court battle, which dates back to 1986, pits Operation Rescue and the Pro-Life Action League against the National Organization for Women (NOW) and a group of abortion clinics, but the issues involved have created strange bedfellows. Among those supporting the prolife activists are groups like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, both of which also engage in protest tactics like sit-ins and blockades. The ACLU is staying out of the Supreme Court battle, but in lower courts sided with the prolifers.
"From the burning or hanging of effigies in Colonial times to the civil rights and anti-war sit-ins of the 1960s and 1970s, demonstrations, even illegal ones, have been both an outlet for dissent and an instrument for social and legal change," says Sekulow's appeal.
NOW lawyer Fay Clayton says the prolife activists are wrong to describe themselves ...1
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