High court rules in favor of abortion protesters
Magista ii tiempo legend 7 washington (AP) The dealt a setback Tuesday to abortion clinics in a twodecadeold legal fight over antiabortion protests, ruling that federal extortion and racketeering laws cannot be used to ban demonstrations.
The 80 decision ends a case that the 7th had kept alive despite a 2003 ruling by the high court that lifted a nationwide injunction on antiabortion groups.
Antiabortion groups brought the appeal after the appellate court sought to determine whether the injunction could be supported by charges that protesters had made threats of violence.
The ruling will have no effect on a permanent federal injunction issued in 1995 against antiabortion protests at Connecticut clinics, attorneys on both sides of the issue said.
That injunction, which stemmed from protests at the Summit Women’s Center, was based on both federal racketeering laws and state claims such as trespassing, said, an attorney for the clinic. Protesters had broken into the clinic, located in West Hartford at the time, and damaged equipment, he said.
“Any attempt to trespass at the clinics in Bridgeport or Hartford will meet with federal contempt claims, Schoenhorn said.
, an attorney who represented the antiabortion group, agreed, but called Tuesday’s ruling significant.
“The Supreme Court has done the right thing making it clear you can’t sue protesters under a law designed to destroy the Mafia, Secola said.
In the ruling, said Congress did not intend to create “a freestanding physical violence offense” in the federal extortion law known as the Hobbs Act.
Instead, Breyer wrote, Congress chose to address violence outside abortion clinics in 1994 magista ii by passing the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, which set parameters for such protests.
Social activists and the AFLCIO had sided with abortion demonstrators in arguing that lawsuits and injunctions based on the federal extortion law could be used to thwart their efforts to change public policy or agitate for better wages and working conditions.
The legal battle tiempo legend 7 began in 1986, when the filed a classaction suit challenging tactics used by the ProLife Action Network to tiempo legend 7 block women from entering abortion clinics.
NOW’s legal strategy was novel at the time, relying on civil provisions of the 1970 Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, which was used predominantly in criminal cases against organized crime. The lawsuit also relied on the Hobbs Act, a 55yearold law banning extortion.
A federal judge issued a nationwide tiempo legend 7 injunction against the antiabortion protesters after a Chicago jury found in 1998 that demonstrators had engaged in a pattern of racketeering by interfering with clinic operations, menacing doctors, assaulting patients and damaging clinic property.
But the Supreme Court voided the injunction in 2003, ruling that the extortion law could not be used against the protesters because they had not illegally “obtained property” from women seeking to enter clinics to receive abortions tiempo legend 7.