Supreme Court says pro-lifers are not mobsters

Supreme Court says pro-lifers are not mobsters

The Supreme Court has ruled today in a two-decade-old lawsuit that racketeering laws can’t be used against pro-life groups by pro-abortionists. The National Organization for Women and abortionists had filed suit against the Pro-Life Action League and individual pro-lifers, including Joe Scheidler, in Chicago claiming they had violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), a law designed to take down the Mafia. They had claimed that pro-lifers had conspired in a coordinated effort to close down or disrupt abortion clinics across the country in the 1980s. They claimed that this meant that pro-lifers shouldn’t be treated like American exercising their First Amendment rights, but as criminals involved in organized crime.

The Supreme Court had already ruled last June that the RICO statutes were wrongly applied in this case, asserting that the law had been stretched well beyond its legislative intent in an effort to chill free speech. That should have been the end of it, except the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago questioned whether a nationwide ban on demonstrations that interfere with abortion clinics carrying out their baby executions could be kept in place on other legal grounds.

Today’s ruling should be a definitive end to this misuse of the justice system once and for all. I’m not sure of the actual voting split among justices or the actual opinions yet, so we can’t yet say for sure whether this is an indicator of things to come from the new court.

Update: A reader informs me that the decision was unanimous with Alito not participating and that Breyer wrote the majority opinion. You can read it in PDF at the Supreme Court web site.

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